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Losar is the New Year in Tibet. Year of the Male Iron Tiger, anyone?

February 15, 2010

Alexis J Hyatt
Buddhist Beliefs
February 13, 2010

This year Losar is held on February 14, and along
with traditional festivities, special wishes are
being made by Tibetans to strengthen their identity over China in 2010.

Happy Losar! In Tibetan, LO means Year, and SAR
means New. Losar is the most important holiday
celebrated in Tibet, and for a region that has
come to symbolize the continuous struggle for
freedom, this year's festivities promise to be
literally statement making throughout the year.
It may be the year 2010 according to the
Gregorian calendar, but this is the start of
Tibetan Year 2137, year of the Male Iron Tiger.

History of Losar

The roots of Losar trace back to the pre-Buddhist
period known as Bon, the oldest spiritual
tradition in Tibet. The precursor of ceremonies
for what is now called Losar occurred to
celebrate the arts of cultivation, irrigation,
refining iron from ore and the building of
bridges when they were first commenced in Tibet.
These activities became the annual Tibetan
farmer's festival once the science of astrology,
based on the five elements, were beginning to be
practiced. Losar, the lunar New Year, was born
out of the study of the elements used to create
the Tibetan calendar and the accompanying festivities which still take place.

Losar Customs and Traditions

In some parts of Tibet, Losar is celebrated over
a 15 day period. But the majority of festivities
occur within the first three days of the holiday.
On the day before the eve of Losar, it is
tradition to cook special noodle dishes and dough
balls to serve. These dough balls are made with a
hidden object or material baked inside of them
and given to a person whose personality matches
the meaning of the object within the dough ball.
For example, if a person opens their given dough
ball and encounters chilies, this means they are
talkative, whereas coal in one’s dough ball
signifies they have been naughty, all presented
in good humor. The next day, the eve of Losar, is
spent cleaning and preparing for the pending
celebrations. This is also the day when Lama
Losar, intricate offerings, is also put forth.
The first three days of Losar are reserved for
secular gatherings, preparing traditionally
dishes and beverages, and paying respect to the
Dalai Lama for good luck in the upcoming year and
hopes for a long and healthy life to all.

Losar: Because I am Tibetan

The Students for a Free Tibet website
(studentsforafreetibet.org), is celebrating
Losar: Because I am Tibetan. This Losar, year
2137 for Tibetans, is year of the Male Iron
Tiger, a time for change, hope and renewal. In
honor of the dawning of this New Year, Students
for a Free Tibet is encouraging Tibetans and
supporters of Tibet to promote change, hope and
renewal during this special year. Tibetans are
looking forward to asserting their identity more
strongly than ever by taking a Losar pledge to
take action for Tibet. This pledge is to
encourage Tibetans to take one action a week or
one simple action a day in the name of Tibetan
identity and strength. Non-Tibetans who are
supporters of Tibet are also making pledges to
take a specific action this year for Tibet and
its people. There are also Losar greeting cards
that people can send to President Obama in honor
of the New Year and his planned meeting with the
Dalai Lama. The Year of the Male Iron Tiger is
full of promise already for Tibetans. Hopefully
it will be a year full of peace and strength.
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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