Significance of Losar
Losar in Tibetan language means New Year. And Losar is the most important day in the Tibetan calendar as the Tibetan New Year is celebrated on this day. The festivities stretch for as long as fifteen days. Lo in Tibetan language means year while sar in Tibetan means new, hence the name of the festival. Buddhists start celebrating Losar about a week before the English New Year.
The entire family gets together to make the elaborate preparations of the festival. Houses are cleaned and painted fresh. People wear new clothes and get them stitched days ago. People forget their differences and renew their bonds with each other. Pictures of sun and moon, made with flour paste, adorn the homes. Lamps are lighted. The initial phase of the festival is usually enjoyed at home and then later on the merriment overflows out into the streets.
Specialties of the festival
The first day of Losar is marked by the preparation of a special beverage from a beer-like liquid. Delicacies are prepared and people usually indulge in alcohol too. On the fifth day of the festival, a special dish of boiled broth of barley grains along with green peas and sheep stomach is prepared. Another specialty of this festival is a dish prepared by stuffing the intestine of sheep with dough of barley.
It is also a Buddhist ritual to brandish flaming torches to ward off the evil spirits and other evils and misfortunes such as sickness, bad luck, family deaths, animal bites, etc. It is the time to bring home the new and accept the good things of life. People celebrate the spirit of hope and optimism. People carry burning torches and take out processions all the while chanting and uttering slogans.
The Buddhists also visit the resting places of their dead forefathers and offer food and drinks and light lamps. Later on, these offerings are consumed by themselves along with the blessings of the ancestors. Also people keep ibex images and ibex figures made of dough in various places of their houses. Ibex, a species of wild goat that dwells in the mountainous terrains of Alps, symbolizes fertility and is considered auspicious and believed to bring good fortune.
In lines with any other festival, on this day, the Buddhists too wear new clothes and a lot of jewellery. They visit the monasteries and prepare offerings of a mixture of flour made from barley along with some sugar, butter, and yogurt. This offering is significant as it is the symbol of plentiful harvest and hence wealth and prosperity. People exchange New Year greetings and travel widely to visit relatives on this occasion.