Take a Tibet Tour to celebrate Tibetan New Year with Tibet Shambhala Adventure
Taking a Tibet tour during Tibetan New Year is one of the best opportunities to witness different Tibetan culture, activities, religious ceremony, singing traditional songs and dancing including Tibetan opera which has been listed in the UNESCO Heritage of the United Nation. Popularly known as “Losar” in Tibetan, The Tibetan New Year is treated as one of the most important Tibetan festivals. It is celebrated on the first day of the Lunar Tibetan calendar which usually falls in mid-Febuary corresponding to the international calendar. It is celebrated for 15 days and the first three days of the festivals are considered as the most important festival days.
Taking a Tibet tour during the Tibetan New Year is like celebrating a new year in a home away from home. You can travel to different places of Tibetan area to witness different kinds of activities during the festivals. In general, there are several different kinds of Losar or New Year celebration in Tibet such as Kongpo Losar, Sonam Losar and Gyelpo Losar etc. Sonam Losar is held on the first of the 12th month of the Tibetan lunar calendar and this Losar is carried on in the western part of Tibet including Shigatse. They hold Losar one month earlier is because their time to work in the field is getting closer so they celebrate one month earlier. Kongpo Losar is held in the 10th month of the Tibetan lunar Calendar and it is said that once up on a time, the King of Kongpo which in the eastern forest region of Tibet had to go for war before Tibetan New Year so the king decided to celebrate Losar earlier before he went for the war. Gyelpo Losar is celebrated widely, especially in Lhasa and entire central Tibet is because it is the new year that has more than two thousand years history.
During Gyelpo Losar, there are lots of festivals going on. Inside the major big monasteries around Lhasa, they hold prayer ceremony from 8th till 15th of first month of the Tibetan lunar calendar and thousands of thousands people go to visit the monasteries and do lots of offering to the statues and monks to pray for the peace of the world and well beings of the all sentient beings.
There are lots of other activities going on inside Lhasa and in the villages around Lhasa. They display old prayer flags by the new ones, family gathering, circle dancing, horse racing, body wrestling etc.
Pre Losar preparation: Guthuk and NamKhang
About One month before the actual Tibetan New Year’s celebration, there will be plenty of household chores to be tasked ranging from sweepings to shopping, baking khapsey ( fried pastry) to trimming hair. It will be the most hustling month of the year. In order to bid farewell to the old year, two days prior to the actual Newyear i.e. 29th of the 12th Lunar Month of the Tibetan Calendar, the days is referred to as “ GUTHUK”, a term given to a family get together dinner which only serves a special traditional Tibetan noodle soup containing signs of different kinds hidden inside a dough and served along with soup. The signs consists of Sun, Moon, Salt, Chilies, wool, coal etc. if someone is found to have wool ( for instance) inside the dough, it is considered to be a good sign symbolizing that he or she is a good hearted person. It can also said to symbolize a person’s temperamental personality. Guthuk is followed by purification practices to eradicate the evil spirit and to bid farewell to the old year along with all negative deeds we have cultivated. We then pray to have a happy and healthy year ahead.
As we purified, we begin to welcome the New Year. A day prior to the Tibetan New Year is commonly known as Namkhang which is the new year eve. On which we set Derkha ( a special altar enshrined infront of the most sacred place in the house).
The alters above includes the below items;
1. Khabsey- Earshaped deep fried pastry
2. Buluk-Fried pastry with round in Shape
3. Droso Chemar-a wooden container divided into two part containg Tsampa and Wheat
4. Tsepdro- The Eight Auspicious Signs of Tibet sculptured using butter.
5. Lophue- the annual harvest of the year.
6. Lukgo- Lamp’s head.
10. Fruits and snacks.
11. Changpue: Tibetan Barley wine
12. Droma Daesil.
As we finished setting up the Losar Derkha, we are all set to welcome the New Year. On the first day of the Tibetan Newyear, Tibetan people get up early in the morning in their newest dress to consume Chemar( taking a pinch of Tsampa and Wheat contained in the wooden box in the above picture, throwing half of them in air to pray for a happy and prosperous New Year and we consume the other half). After the prayer, Families get together for the special breakfast consisting;
1 Changkol: Boiled Tibet Barley Wine
2.Droma Daesil: Mix of rice, dried fruits and berries to wish for a happy and prosperous year ahead.
Soon after the breakfast, Tibetans begin the first day of the New Year and if you are in Lhasa, people go to visit Jokhang temple to get blessing from Jowo Shakyamuni, the central and primary image of the most sacred temple in Tibet. Tibetan people pray to a happy and healthy year ahead. Families then get together to exchange gifts. Kids are presented various surprises in the form of New Year gifts.
On the second day of the Tibetan New Year, we invite or get invited from our relatives and closed one to celebrate the New Year together. We exchange words of good wishes ( commonly; Tashi Delek) to each other. We dine and dance together. Sing along with the every song we played. It is indeed a special period of visiting Tibet to celebrate a new year with us, in a home away from home.
On the Third day of the Tibetan New Year, Tibetan people perform Sangsol, a medicinal offering made to God by burning cypress and pine tree branches and other essential Tibetan herbs. Then each family will bring their own prayer flags, hanging them either on the roof top of their house or somewhere upon a peak.
If you take a Tibet tour during Tibetan New year, we recommend you to have around 8 days Tibet tour starting from Lhasa, visiting the highlight of the Lhasa cultural site and at the same time, you can visit local Tibetan families and enjoy new year parties with the local families. After that, you can drive to Tsetang, Samye monastery, Gyantse and Shigatse,. On the way, you will enjoy seeing lots of new year activities going on including horse racing, folk dancing, body wrestling, hanging prayer flags on the hill tops and Tibetan opera.
Tibet Shambhala Adventure highly recommends you to take a Tibet tour to witness and experience an authentic Tibetan New Year celebration with us. For more details on your Tibet Tour and Service. Please visit Tibet festival Tour.