The arrival of the New Year as per the traditional Tibetan Buddhist Calendar schedule is celebrated as the Losar Festival. Members of the Buddhist community celebrate Losar with religious fervour for 15 days. It starts from the first day of the Tibetan Lunar Calendar, which has 11 months.
Losar Festival Significance
The Losar Festival signifies the start of the New (Sar) Year (Lo) as per the Tibetan calendar. In 2022, the festival was celebrated from 3rd March to 5th March. According to the Tibetan lunar calendar, 3rd March signified the first day of the first month and is the day of the new moon. The festival includes religious ceremonies that celebrate the victory of good over evil after a long struggle.
The starting date of the Losar Festival is also called Gyalpo Losar, which stands for the King's New Year in Tibetan. The Tibetans prepare delicious cuisines and engage in cultural extravaganza. Adults and children dress themselves in traditional garments splashed with vibrant colours.
Losar Festival History
The origin of the Losar Festival can be traced back to the 15th century. Buddhist monks offered consecrated items to their gods in shrines and Gompas.
During the Losar Festival, people are infused with a spirit of merrymaking that manifests in singing and dancing coupled with other fun activities. The festival features mock battles between the king and members of his ministry for amusement purposes. Other events like the dance of the deer heighten the entertainment quotient of the festival.
Losar Festival - Mode of Celebration
Losar Festival in Sikkim announces the end of the harvesting season. It also concludes the tenth month of the Tibetan year. The Monpa tribe of the Tawang region in Arunachal Pradesh has been celebrating this festival for ages.
The Metho ceremony is characterized by holy chanting and lighting the sacred fire to drive away evil spirits and usher in positive vibes through holy spirits. Slogans are chanted during the Losar Festival, offerings are made, and incense sticks are burnt.
Facts About Losar Festival
In Ladakh, the capping of mountains with a snowy layer announces the onset of Losar preparations. Dancers in traditional masks perform Cham Dance which you can view at the Namgyal and Hemis monasteries.
Celebrations in India
Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Spiti, Kinnaur, and other mountainous regions with Buddhist or Tibetan influence.
Flags of different colours are fixed on poles over hills, monasteries, and homes.
Flaming of torches
Torches are flamed with herbs like artemisia, and juniper for a fragrant aroma.
People greet each other cheerfully with Tashi Delek'.
Mode of celebration
Houses are cleaned and decorated; old items are thrown out; prayers are chanted in monasteries.
Children are gifted red envelopes containing money. Red envelopes are believed to shield children from untimely death, illness, and evil spirits.
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Special Losar Festival Cuisine
The famous Guthuk soup is prepared during the Losar Festival. This is a variation of the conventional Tibetan noodle soup, Thukpa Bhatuk, made from smaller bhatsa noodles. The soup is made from nine ingredients - beef, beef stock, onion, garlic, radish, peas, tomato, spinach, and dry cheese.
Nine dough balls prepared from barley flour are placed in every Guthuk bowl. Inside the ball, a small item is secretly placed which is used to predict the new year's course of events for the consumer. The item can be a folded paper piece, wood, wool, charcoal, pebble, bean, chilli, etc. The consumer casts off negative vibes of the past and invites positivity for the upcoming year.
FAQs on Losar Festival
Q 1. What does Losar imply in the Losar Festival?
Lo stands for Year,' whereas Sar represents New,' in the term Losar Festival.
Q 2. When was the Losar Festival celebrated in 2022?
The Losar Festival was celebrated from 3rd March to 5th March in 2022.
Q 3. How is the start of the Losar Festival determined?
The Losar Festival starts on the first day of the first month of the Tibetan lunar calendar and is made known by the celebrations.
Q 4. In which areas is the Losar Festival celebrated in India?
The Losar Festival is celebrated mainly in Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Spiti, Kinnaur, and other hilly regions with Buddhist or Tibetan influence in India.
Q 5. What is the Metho ceremony during the Losar Festival?
The Metho ceremony is characterized by offerings made in the sacred fire and religious hymns chanted to banish evil spirits during the Losar Festival.