Losar, the fifteen day New Year celebration
Losar means New Year in Tibetan. Losar is a very important day where it is a public holiday in Bhutan and Tibet. The celebrations extend for a period of fifteen days however the first three days are considered to be the most important ones. Losar and the Chinese and Mongolian New Year are very close to each other or even fall on the same day however the celebrations of Losar are very unique and pertain only to Tibet.
The Tibetan New Year falls on 11th February in 2013.
History of Losar celebration
Losar has been celebrated for centuries. It dates back to the pre-Buddhist era. Earlier people would celebrate a spiritual ceremony every year offering large amounts of incense to spirits and deities. Later this practice developed into a yearly Buddhist festival. During this period various practices were brought to light such as cultivation, irrigation, refining iron ore and bridge building. This farmer’s festival is celebrated till date with a lot of zest and vigor as Losar.
The major three days of Losar
The Losar dates keep fluctuating on the basis of the lunar calendar every year. The first day of the festival known as Lama Losar, the 15 day celebrations begin with the guru and disciple wishing each other peace and prosperity. An offering such as barley seeds and buckets of tsampa which is nothing but roasted barley four with butter is considered to be a good practice. On this day the Dalai Lama and all the other spiritual lamas make offerings to various dharma protectors especially Palden Lhamo who is a very special protector of Tibet.
The second day is known as the Gyalpo Losa. This day is dedicated for honoring all the community leaders and national leaders. Earlier this day was for the kings to hand distribute gifts among the general public. Dalai Lama is said to greet Tibetan officials in exile and other foreign dignitaries during this day of Losar.
The third day of Losar is known as Choe-Kyong Losar. On this day people make offerings to all the protectors. Prayer flags are raised from various hills and mountains this day and various songs and other prayers are chanted. Though the spiritual days of Losar come to an end with Choe-Kyong Losar, the celebrations and festivities continue until the Chunga Choepa which is otherwise known as the Butter Lamp Festival. During Losar Tibet is lit with art and crafts, rituals and happiness.
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