Join our Mailing List

"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Tibetan astrologers caught in political battle over February 25 lunar New Year

February 25, 2009

February 23, 5:26 AM
by Maria Barron, Astrology Examiner

Losar 2009, the Tibetan New Year, comes with the new moon this
Wednesday, Feb. 25. Sometimes referred to as the Buddhist New Year,
Losar actually pre-dates Buddhism and is traditionally the most
important holiday of the year for Tibetans, kicking off 15 days of

This year, protest groups in the Dalai Lama’s home in exile in
Dharamsala, India, who hope to free Tibet from Chinese rule, have called
for the celebrations to be boycotted. In response, the Chinese
government has stepped up incentives to celebrate. They’ve given Tibetan
workers the week off, distributed money to buy holiday goodies and
called upon an expert in traditional Tibetan astrology to clarify that,
in their calls for a somber New Year, the protest groups have gotten
their astrology wrong.

The Tibetan calendar includes elements of the traditional calendars of
India and China along with elements particular to Tibet. This year is an
Earth year and an Ox year, according to both the Chinese and Tibetan
traditions. Astrologer Gongkar Rigzin, 67, of Lhasa, Tibet, said that in
Tibetan tradition, 2009 is a red year, which means that it should be
festive and auspicious, but dry.

In a feature published by the official Chinese news agency, Xinhua, he
said the Tibetan Youth Congress in Dharamsala had erred in saying the
year would be black. “The TYC, by calling red black, was playing
politics and misleading the public,” he said.

Regardless of the astrology of the lunar calendar, the protest groups’
message has been heard within Tibet, situated north of the Himalayas in
Asia, and in Tibetan communities around the world, according to reports
from multiple sources.

Yet the idea of replacing the joyous holiday with a period of mourning
for independence protesters killed last year in the contested land is
controversial even among those who support the idea of an independent
Tibet and who back the Dalai Lama and his government-in-exile.

In an opinion piece published on the website, an online
community for Tibetans living outside of Tibet, Gelek Badheytsang argues
that joyous celebrations are themselves a blow for cultural freedom
against oppressors.

“The Chinese government may have taken a lot from us, and they continue
to, but they can’t take our identity from us,” Badheytsang wrote.
“Before all this talk of boycotting Losar, let us not forget that it
belongs to us. It is a piece as unique and integral to us as our
language, religion and mountains. A part of us that we can hold up
against any other country in the world, to let them marvel at the heft
of our ingenuity; that a civilization speckled on a vast plateau high up
the Himalayas can devise an intricate calendar all their own. There
aren’t a lot of U.N. countries that can boast of that fact. But we can.
Because Losar is ours.”

In respectful recognition of one of the many beautiful cultures and
star-based calendars of our multi-faceted world, I echo the writer’s
traditional Losar greeting: Tashi Delek – good luck to you.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
Developed by plank