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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

A Happy Tibetan New Year to all

February 10, 2008

Telluride, Colorado
By Elisabeth Gick
The Daily Planet
Wed Feb 06, 2008

Losar, the Tibetan New Year, begins on Feb. 7 with celebrations for the
next three to 14 days. It is the most important holiday in Tibet.

Traditionally, spiritual and worldly cleaning preceded the New Year’s
festivities. Homes were painted, new clothes stitched, debts and
quarrels resolved, good food was cooked, and intoxicants prepared in the
run-up to New Year’s Day. Monks held purification rituals called pujas.

On the morning of the New Year, families rose before dawn, bathed, put
on new clothes and fine jewellery. Offerings of barley flour mixed with
butter and sugar and yogurt were then made at the family shrine
representing the hope for a good grain harvest. After a visit to local
monasteries, the family settled down to feasting and drinking.

In the night the swishing sound of burning torches could be heard around
a Buddhist home as men whirled flaming torches over their heads to ward
off evil spirits, sickness, dog bites and other misfortunes from
striking their family in the new year.

As the days went on festivities tended to get more rowdy due to the
consumption of large quantities of chang, home-brewed beer.

For more than 50 years, however, Losar has not been such a happy event
for Tibetans trying to hold on to their lifestyle in their homeland.
Chinese occupation, with the accompanying suppression of local
traditions and customs, leaves little to look forward to in a new year.

A climate of fear and suspicion has settled over the country. Long
prison sentences are dealt to any dissenter, like the nomad who got an
eight-year sentence for calling out for the Dalai Lama’s return (he was
accused of “inciting to split the country”); within the prisons, torture
of the most un-imaginable kind is still exercised.

The one-child policy is now applied more often even to Tibetans who have
never had a problem with overpopulation in their vast country. Refugees
tell of forced sterilizations and forced abortions at any stage of
pregnancy; even the killing of newborns through injections given by
Chinese doctors or nurses has been reported.

Monastic life, once the center of Tibetan culture, is drastically
curtailed. Monks are subjected to regular “re-education” sessions and
have to denounce their loyalty to the Dalai Lama. Monasteries that used
to house thousands of monks of all ages now are allowed less than one
tenth of the former population.

The list of horrors goes on and on.

What to do? Check out the website of the International Campaign for
Tibet for all sorts of ways to lend a helping hand.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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