Villagers completed their Losar (Tibetan New Year) preparations of shopping, baking, and making decorations for their family shrines and guest rooms. Loved ones from far and near arrived home for this most celebrated Tibetan holiday. And it’s finally Losar Eve where spiritual offerings are a big part of wrapping up the year and wishing for an auspicious year ahead.
My brother, next eldest to me, is usually the one who represents my family in offering sang to our mountain gods/protective deities. Sang (bsang) is an incense offering of juniper branches, topped with a mix of flour, roasted grains, candies, and baked goods. Liquor may also be added and burnt together. Sang is also offered at the village temple on the Losar Eve and in the early morning of the new day. For most Tibetan families, sang is a daily ritual.
But this year, my little brother had the honor, and I decided to tag along and join the fun. Although women are allowed, an event such this one belongs to the men’s world. It’s rare to see a woman there, unless a family is all women. But I wanted to experience it for myself and am now able to share it with you.
Hi Jolma, what happens to all these wonderful offerings after the event is over? Hope you are well!!! Anne
They are kept there year round and new pieces will be piled up next year, Anne. Enjoying being home!
Hi Jolma, a unique and interesting stories and beautiful photographs for us to capture a glimpse into the experience and beautiful scenario. The fabrics are exquisite. I had the same question as Anne on what happens to all of the wonderful offerings. When you say they are ‘kept,’ do you mean they are kept at the temple?
Yes, Peggy. Those rich fabrics are kept there in the Lhakang year round.
Hi Jolma! I love your photos. They bring so much life to the wonderful stories of your culture.
Thank you, Kate. I’m delighted that you like my photos of cultural expressions and stories.
Good for you for going there when traditionally only men do. And thank you for sharing what goes on!
As a foreigner sometimes I am allowed to do things that traditionally women don’t do in the village such as sit on the kang during Losar, not work (!) and attend the New Year’s Eve bonfires. I know a Tibetan girl who is now studying in America who often challenges cultural expectations when she visits home. Western culture has influenced her a lot. What do people think when you do things in an nontraditional way? What do you think?
An excellent, loaded question, Kimberly! This makes me think deep about women’s position in Tibetan society. But today, with a Losar party still on going, let’s keep it brief. 🙂
In this corner of Rebgong, a woman attending the bonfire of New Year’s Eve at home is not a problem, often the whole family takes part. But sitting on kang, in general, is not for young women and men. It’s usually for the elderly or guest of honor.
As for what villagers think of me attending the ceremony on Losar Eve, my sense is that they didn’t think too much about it because women are not banned. And people from our village are pretty open as it close to the city of Rebgong /Rongwo (རོང་བོ, Longwu officially). But this does not mean Tibetan women are decision makers of their families. Again, thank you for posing great questions, Kimberly!