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How do Local Tibetans Celebrate New Year—the Annual Losar Festival

Publish Time: 2019-01-09 Author: From: China Tibet Online

A unique three-day festival that mixes the sacred and secular practices of the Tibetan Buddhists, the Tibetan New Year, also known as “Losar” is the single most important festival in the Tibetan calendar. This amazing festival, held on the first new moon of the Tibetan calendar, features religious ceremonies and prayers, as well as the hanging of prayer flags, sacred dances and folk dancing, and lots of partying. Representing a time for the renewal and purification of all things, this widely celebrated festival is the pinnacle of Tibetan culture and religious devotion. For anyone able to travel to Tibet during Losar, this is the ultimate cultural experience in the region.

The festival is held on different dates each year, depending on the date when the first new moon falls. The date normally corresponds to a date in February or March in the Gregorian calendar of the west, and is a two-week celebration, though the main festivities occur in the first three days. Held all across the Tibetan plateau, as well as in the main Tibetan areas of Gansu, Yunnan, Sichuan, and Qinghai provinces, this spectacular celebration starts a week before with preparations and ends with the Butter Lamp Festival on the 14th day of the first month. Held on the first full moon of the year, it celebrates the miracle of Buddha at Sravasti where he won a great victory over his opponents in India 2,500 years ago.

Origin of Losar Festival in Tibet

As one of the most important festival dates in the Tibetan Buddhist calendar, Losar can actually be traced back to its origins in the pre-Buddhist era of Tibet. During the Ben period of religion in Tibet, the people would follow an ancient tradition and hold a spiritual ceremony every winter. The ceremony consists of offering incense and other offerings to their local deities to appease the spirits and the protector deities for the coming year. It was this ceremony that later evolved into the modern-day Losar festival in Tibetan Buddhism. The ceremonies also came about at the time when the arts of cultivation, irrigation, and arable farming were first introduced in Tibet, and the celebrations of these new capabilities are part of the precursors to Losar.

Other factors were also involved in its conception, including the introduction of time measurement based on the phases of the moon, which began in the period of the ninth king of Tibet. When the basics of astrology were introduced into Tibet much later, this farmer’s festival soon transformed into the Tibetan New Year, based on its closeness to the lunar measurement of time that is said to have been introduced by a woman known as Belma.


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