It’s Losar! Tibetan New Years in Kathmandu

Happy New Year! I’m in Kathmandu and today is Losar, Tibetan new year of 2146. Yep. Everybody’s all dressed up in traditional costumes, offering prayers and holding family gatherings. This is the year of the Earth Pig, the last in a 12-year zodiac cycle. Whatever lessons we failed to learn in earlier periods of this cycle, it is time to learn them now. All the indicators point to 2019 as being a very good year. After the challenges in the past few years, I hope this is going to be the year we all need.

Losar is Tibetan New Year. Tashi Delek is a Tibetan greeting meaning Auspicious Blessings.

Tibetan New Year festival of Losar begins on February 5th and lasts for 15 days. It starts on the first new moon of the lunar calendar and ends on the first full moon February 19th. In Nepal, stores are closed for three days to celebrate. People clean and paint their homes, and make new clothes to prepare for this time of year. Now they gather for prayers, visit local temples for blessings, hang prayer flags, participate in ceremonies, folk dances, pass fire torches, and visit friends and family. Warm greetings are exchanged with everyone. Delicious food such as Dresi, Kabsay, Guthuk, meats, bread, butter tea and other dishes are served.

For breakfast we were treated to a traditional breakfast of dresi, or sweet rice with raisins and nuts. They made it with Bhutanese red rice and honey just for me.

We ran into this beautiful Tibetan family coming home from blessings at the monastery.

This is Diki Sherpa, owner of the Butsugen hotel dressed in traditional Tibetan finery for Losar.

Circle dancers in colorful Tibetan costumes. I love their extra long sleeves!

Bhutanese ceremonial dancers perform for Losar barefoot, although it’s still very cold.

For the family altar, a decorated wooden 2-compartment container called a “Chemar Bo” is filled with barley grain and barley flour. I like the hats too!

Here at Butsugen Hotel, we also have a “Chemar Bo” filled with barley grain and barley flour.

Today I ran into this beautiful man on his way home from a monastery celebration. He is wearing a traditional Tibetan chupa cloak, usually worn off one shoulder.

These beautiful ladies are decked out for Losar, and agreed to a photo.

Monasteries perform chanting ceremonies for Losar. These long horns are called “Dungchen”.

The 5th king of Bhutan celebrates Losar with his son Jigme.

Chinese (and Tibetan) Astrology is a Complex System
Five thousand years ago, ancient astronomers developed the ability to calculate time, in order to record the chronological sequence of events. Far beyond European culture at that time, they created a system to measure years using two sets of signs in sequence: Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches. Around 2,700 BC the great ancestor of China, the Yellow Emperor (Huangdi), asked his astrologer Da Rao Shi to create a calendar system. Da Rao Shi studied the movements between sky and earth as well as the four seasons. He created ten “heavenly stems”and twelve “earthly branches”, yielding a 60-year cycle. A year can be represented by the composition of these two characters, one from the heavenly set, and one from the earthly branches. This way of counting time has been passed down for thousands of years.

A simple zodiac chart of animals. Remember there’s a LOT more to Chinese astrology.

What’s unique about the Earth Pig?
Chinese Five Elements views 5 types of each animal. Which element is your birth year? If you’re born in the year of the Pig, in order to know about your astrology, you need to know if you’re a Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, or Water Pig. For example, Earth Pig people are said to be tender, mild, enthusiastic and positive. They like to share their stories and experiences with others. Strong and sympathetic, they are glad to provide help to people in hardship. They are frank and sincere to friends, so they may also gain help from others when they get into trouble. Earth Pigs are uniquely different from – say, Wood, Fire, Metal, and Water Pigs.

General personality traits of people born in the sign of the Pig are happy, easy-going, honest, trusting, educated, sincere and brave. Possible dark qualities of Pig people may be stubbornness, naive, over-reliant, self-indulgent, easy to anger, materialistic, and downright lazy. But these simple generalizations are hardly ever accurate.

Your Zodiac Animal is a Tiny Fraction of the Picture
Most people think of Chinese astrology as their zodiac animal sign. Are you a Pig, a Rat, or a Dragon? This is way too simplistic to be useful. It’s like basing your life decisions on your Sun sign – are you a Scorpio or a Gemini? Chinese astrology uses precise mathematical calculations to do a true astrology reading. Your complete, precise astrology chart can indicate your innate talents, your luck phases, and the ups and downs of your life. To look only at your zodiac animal will miss most of the important details. In addition to your animal sign, you need to know the element (Fire, Water, Earth, Metal, or Wood) of the year you were born. You also need to know the exact month, day, time, and place of your birth. So much for those free online astrology precictions – they’re fun for entertainment, but not so useful. Here are recent years of the simple Zodiac animals:

What Will Happen in 2019, the Earth Pig Year?
It seems we’ve been given time to raise our consciousness to a new more universal and spiritual view of existence. The old way of doing things was based on our individual ego., which has created a few difficulties on our planet, including environment, war, prejudice, and greed in big business. Now times are evolving toward a more universal approach offering more love and harmony with life.

This Pig year continues to support the rise of Feminine Consciousness, the awakening of higher dimensions of awareness and spirit. Mother Earth continues to be important again this year. We will see her waking up, and many forms of life will reappear that have been disappearing. The Earth’s water and soil also will become cleaner this year. BTW the Pig is always considered a Yin sign, meaning it is a receiving sign. That’s why it’s called the “Female Earth Pig”.

The Earth Pig holds good prospects for success, supporting our spiritual growth and harmonizing with nature. This is expected to be a good year for agriculture, farming and living in nature. However there could be some incidence of flooding, perhaps due to rising ocean levels.

Yes water. Water is an emotion present this year. We may see some people continuing to live in fear due to the ego, not being able to see an alternative way to live. The Pig will bring us many financial gifts and opportunities. However on the other hand the Pig can become absorbed in pleasure, failing to see details, bringing loss or mistakes.

Why is the Pig the last animal in the Zodiac?
An ancient folk story tells that the Jade Emperor decreed that the calendar years would be named for each animal in the order they reached him in a royal race. To get there, the animals had to cross a river. Cat and Rat were very bad at swimming, but both were quite intelligent. So Cat and Rat decided that the best and fastest way to cross the river was to hop on the back of Ox. Ox, being kindhearted and naive, agreed to carry them both across. Sadly, the cat fell off and drowned, so isn’t in the Zodiac. Eventually 11 animals came across, except for the Pig.

Just as the Emperor was about to close the race, he heard an “oink” sound. it was the Pig. “Lazy little Pig” originated from this story. Turns out the Pig was hungry in the middle of the race, so it stopped, had a nice lunch, and fell asleep. When it woke up, it finished the race as the very last animal.

On Losar morning Mohammed Ali, the one and only do-everything man at Butsugen Hotel, is managing the hotel while the owners Diki and Chetan celebrate Losar with family. Notice the traditional altar of fried bread, gifts, and fruit behind him.

I’m with the Lama’s daughter from a previous marriage. Her nickname is “Baby”. She is a lovely companion, recently graduated from high school and has a few months off to study English with me.

Baby and I are working on writing projects. She’s a fine writer and is writing some articles for my blog. Today she suggested a break from our routine for an open-air lunch on the roof. Great idea! She’s having Buff Fried Rice, and I’m having Dal with Ginger tea. This week she finished this article about The Five Kings of Bhutan and a Sixth in the Making. Check it out!

Great News! Today my visa for Bhutan just arrived from the Immigration Department. I can stay for 11 months! This is wonderful! It’s a testimonial to persistence and good relations the the Lama is cultivating in all corners.

To celebrate my successful Bhutan Visa and the Pig New Year, I’m treating myself to lunch of Pork Ribs at the Vietnamese Pho 99 restaurant in Kathmandu. Surprisingly, I’m getting this is one of the cleanest items on the menu! Yep. Believe it.

Thanks for checking in! This week my lower back is still painful and rigid, after a toxic load of GMO soy oil and Indian pesticides along with a coughing cold a few weeks ago. It is clearing steadily and slowly. I feel better every day. I’m doing daily healings on myself, stretching, Tibetan herbs, BodyTalk, Biodynamic Craniosacral, Body Code, and receiving hot stone massage with Moxa and cupping. When my back is completely well, I’ll return to our house in Paro. For the time being I am still here in Kathmandu, resting and working on all our wonderful writing projects. Hope to see you next week!


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