Losar All About The Tibetan New Year

Losar is a celebration of the Tibetan New Year. Celebrated on different dates according to the location, it is also known as the "Festival of Swords" in some places
Celebrations at the Lamayuru Gompa in Ladakh
Celebrations at the Lamayuru Gompa in Ladakh

Losar Festival is set according to the lunisolar Tibetan calendar. It usually falls in February and lasts around 15 days. The main celebrations happen during the first week. In India, it is celebrated in regions with a focus on Tibetan Buddhism, such as Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Spiti, Kinnaur, and other Buddhist Himalayan regions.

The Traditions

Many families burn pine resin and put coloured grains and wheat on their roofs before daybreak to wish for a prosperous new year.

Common New Year's greetings include the phrase "Losar bey tashi delek,"  which translates to "blessings and good luck for the New Year."

Prayer flags can be seen everywhere, and events include horse racing, wrestling, and tug-of-war games.

Inspired by the Chinese New Year,&nbspred packets or envelopes containing money are given to children as a symbol of good fortune and a successful year ahead. 

Culinary Trails

Traditionally, sprouted barley seeds and buckets of tsampa (roasted barley flour with butter) and other grains are offered on home altars to ensure a good harvest. Losar preparations begin in early December. The celebrations involve making butter, brewing chang (barley wine), preparing pork and mutton dishes, cooking guthuk soup and dough balls, and more.

A Soup To Cleanse The Year

Guthuk is a part of the Losar festival ceremonies to cleanse the past year and prepare for a fruitful new one. The name presents nine ingredients mushrooms, celery, labu (daikon radish), peas, tomato, onion, ginger, garlic, and spinach. Yak or cow meat and dry cheese are used in guthuk. A traditional Tibetan noodle soup called thukpa bhatuk acts as its base, and the vegetables are added for a flavourful broth. What makes it special is a large dough ball containing an object or its symbol, which refers to a person's character.

The Metho Ceremony

Holy chanting and the lighting of the sacred fire are features of the Metho ceremony, which is said to exorcise negative energies and welcome good spirits with a recitation of various slogans and the burning of incense sticks.

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