Wishing you all a Happy Losar.
Losar is the Tibetan New Year. It’s the year of the dog. The holiday mixes both sacred and secular rituals. From a cultural perspective, Losar is like Christmas for Westerners, except Tibet’s New Year in Reb gong lasts 18 days.
Year after year, we relish the rich heritage of Losar. Its preparation is serious business, including a yearly deep cleaning of the house, shopping for gifts, and specialty food items. It’s also the time to make a variety of treats and bake loaves of Rebgong (Reb gong) bread in the number of 50 or more, ten- to twenty-five-inches in diameter each. All for gift giving.
There are practices of ancient traditions on Losar Eve and the next morning. Included are rituals of sang—offerings of smoke and fabric—to please local deities. The spiritual gifts are meant to symbolize purification and greet the New Year. After an early breakfast of sha momo (dumplings), which occurs at 2:00 or 3:00 AM, we pay a visit to others. The adults visit their parents if they aren’t living under the same roof. With gifts in hand, making a special trip to visit families that lost a loved one in the previous year is also reserved for the grown-ups.
When I was a girl, my family would send us children to visit elders and relatives in the village. A gift package included the combination of a large piece or two of cooked meat and shole (a slender deep-fried bread), fruits and steamed dumplings stacked seven-high and wrapped up tight atop a loaf of Rebgong bread. And how could I not recall it? I was dressed in the traditional floor-length robe, coral jewelry, and hair braided in Tibetan style with ornaments placed down my back. It was a ceremony to deliver this parcel to the respected elders (and show off my beautiful clothes).
Hosting dinner parties for the extended clan through the 15th day is a marathon event during Losar. With full of food-stuff decorations, one by one, dishes begin to appear: trays of yak, mutton, radish dumplings, sweet dumplings, stir-fried dishes, jogee sweet rice, and sha momo dumplings piled on rows of tables in the enclosed courtyard of the house. Jokes, singing, and dancing are always part of the fun.
Below are a few links to stories and pictures of cultural expressions during Losar:
Losar Festive Moments
A variety of visual expressions from Losar will offer a sense of celebration and tradition for your enjoyment. May it be gathering for steamy yak meat dumplings, butter sculpture, altar ornaments, Bön practitioners performing dances, or something terribly adorable that you cannot miss: Experience Losar festival moments that you will not forget anytime soon.
Baking for Gift Giving
It might come as a surprise to learn that crunchy, wholesome bread is a staple of Tibetan cuisine. Tibetan mothers and sisters still practice baking in their kitchens on a daily basis. For special occasions like Losar, they embrace the centuries-old method of earth baking. A loaf of bread often boasts a hundred-year-old fermentation—the way it has been baked since a time before active dry yeast was invented. Experience a living history of bread-making.
Losar Preparation: Spiritual Visual Feast
During Losar preparation, you only need to take a five-minute walk to learn much about the festival and to perceive a variety of cultural expressions. Tibetan families display visual feasts that are almost surreal to look at. Behold and marvel at the ambiance.
Losar Eve Offerings
Spiritual offerings are a big part of wrapping up the year and welcoming an auspicious new year. Have you seen an image of a deity or how Tibetans honor the mountain gods? Here is your chance to experience the ancient rituals.
Losar Morning Rituals
What do Tibetans do on Losar morning? From dressing up in vibrant and colorful robes to paying respect to elders with gifts in hand… learn how Tibetans celebrate Losar