Tashi Delek, and Happy Losar 2015! Tashi Delek is the traditional Tibetan greeting for good luck, and Losar literally means New Year
Losar is the most important Tibetan Buddhist festival of the year, and commemorates the struggle between good and evil. The festival dates back to pre-buddhist days, and is celebrated on the first day of the first month of the Tibetan lunar-solar calendar - the date is calculated from both the moon phase and the solar year
Losar celebrations continue for at least 3 days, and traditionally for 15 days, although Tibetans will have started preparing for the festival two days ago. First of all, by cleaning and freshly painting their homes, and saying farewell to the old year and to any bad or unhappy events. Then, looking forward to the new year, they put up decorations and offerings known as Lama Losar, dress up in their finest clothes, and invite all good and auspicious spirits into their homes. Tibetan Buddhist monasteries are splendidly decorated, and special blessing ceremonies held, and the first 15 days of Losar are marked by fasting, or Nyungney
Tibetan New Years Eve festivities include dining on guthuk soup - a traditional noodle soup served with dumplings stuffed with fortune symbols. New Years Day itself tends to be celebrated with immediate family, while the following day is more of a family occasion. On the 3rd day of the New Year Tibetans visit their local monasteries or stupas with offerings of food and clothing for the monks and nuns. The image below shows the gesture symbolising these offerings (Photo credit: DarshanaPhotoArt/KSDL)
Losar 2015 is the Year of the Wood Sheep, which is celebrated every 60 years. Tibetan astrology follows a sixty year cycle, and each year is calculated from a combination of the twelve animal signs (mouse, yak, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, bird, dog and pig) and the five elements (metal, water, wood, fire and earth). Thus the wood sheep is just one of the five types of sheep, and as in all astrology, the sign you are born under affects your personal horoscope
It's many years since I was able to celebrate Losar in Tibet with the Tibetan people, although I'm delighted to be returning to Tibet once again later this year. See my previous post from 2012 on the Year of the Water Dragon. In the meantime, Tashi Delek!