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Tibetan Losar Festival 2022

By:Alice

Tibetan Losar Festival

Tibetan Losar Festival is considered to be Tibetan New Year, canculated by Tibetan Calendar.  Experience authentic Tibet Losar Festival 2022 with us.
First of all, let's learn about history of Tibetan New Year and how do people normally celebrate this fesival.


1. The original of Tibetan New Year

Tibet New Year, also called Tibet Losar Festival,  is a traditional folk activity popular in Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, and one of the national intangible cultural heritages. Tibetan New Year is a traditional festival of the Tibetan people, which is roughly the same as the Chinese Lunar New Year. The Tibetan calendar New year is calculated based on the Tibetan calendar. It starts on the 1st of the first month of the Tibetan calendar and ends on the 15th, and lasts for 15 days. Because Tibetan people believe in Buddhism, the festival is filled with a strong religious atmosphere. It is a festival that entertains gods and people, celebration and prayers.

Tibet Losar Festival celebration Tibet New Year celebration
It’s said that around 500 BC, the old woman's "white horse" calendar algorithm, which calculated the four seasons according to the roundness of the moon and the rotation of the stars, appeared in Tibet. When the flowers are in blossom in spring, people gather in Yalong Yasang to celebrate the New Year's, called "Yasang Festival". According to history records, the Tibetan King Budgongjia also koraed around the nearby sacred mountain.

This activity gradually formed a regular year celebration and became the beginning of the Tibetan year. In the 13th century, during the reign of the Sakya Dynasty, the first day of the first month was designated as the beginning of the new year, which means the new year of the king. Since then, the Tibetan calendar year has officially become an important traditional festival in Tibet and has continued to this day.


It was later named "Sorang Losar" (meaning Lunar New Year). At that time, the people generally believed in "Benbo Religion". Therefore, when the Bonbo believers celebrated the harvest, they made offerings of the heads of animals, and painted (Yong,zhong) patterns and pictures of the sun and the moon on the heads of the animals. In the house, the pattern of (Yongzhong) pattern is painted on red and white clay as the symbol of Benbo religion to worship the gods and pray for blessings, wishing a good harvest in the coming year, and also put long arrows, wheat ears, Highland barley wine, cheema, wheat seedlings, sheep's left legs and "cassette" and other foods, prayer flags are inserted on the top of the mountain and by the water for auspiciousness, and people are happy in this harvest season. The young people had to compete.

At that time, the main event of the competition was "Ordo", using the horn as a target, throwing stones from a specified distance, and the one who hit it was the winner. The girls sang and danced for entertainment. These customs have been passed down to this day.

 Dancing on the roof during Tibet losar festivalTraditional ceremoney during Tibet losar Festival

2. Celebrations of Tibetan New Year

The preparations for the new year generally begin in early December of the previous year. In addition to purchasing New Year's goods for eating, drinking, and having fun, every household has to make a grain bucket called "Qima", that is, tsampa mixed with fried wheat grains and ghee are placed on the left and right sides of the wooden box with colorful patterns. Colorful flowers made of barley ears and ghee. Also soak a bowl of barley seeds in water to make them grow an inch or two of green shoots during the New Year. "Qima" and wheat seedlings are enshrined in the center of the god's case, praying for a bumper harvest in the coming year.

As the festival approaches, the men are busy cleaning the courtyard, while the women make elaborate "kasai", a kind of deep-fried pasta, which is divided into ear-shaped, butterfly-shaped, bar-shaped, square, round and other shapes, coated with paint, coated in sugar. It is not only a work of art for decoration, but also a delicacy for entertaining guests. The varieties and colors of "Casai" often become a symbol of the hostess' diligence, wisdom, and enthusiasm, and are particularly eye-catching in festivals.
Barley in colorful box prepared for Tibet losar festivalTibet losar festival decoration arrangements
On the 29th of the last month of the old year, people cleaned the stove, hung new curtains on the doors and windows, put new card mats in the house, and put the clean stove on the center wall or in the room. A lot of white powder dots are sprinkled with dry flour on the beam, called "Yase", and the pattern of "Eight Treasures Auspicious" is painted. In the evening, each family has to eat gnocchi "gutu". In the evening, the "Gutuk" ceremony is held.

On the 30th, food such as candy is placed in front of the Buddhist altar in the main room as an offering. It is also necessary to paint "卐" symbols and other patterns with white clay outside the gate, and at the same time make offerings such as "kasai" in front of the kitchen to worship the kitchen god. After the chickens croaked for the first time in the morning of the first day of the new year, the housewives got up and went to the nearby water source to carry the first bucket of purified water. Each family sent people to the top of the mountain to simmer mulberry.

At the same time, mulberry smoke rose from the mulberry furnaces of every household. When the housewives returned home, they gave the cooked "Guan Dian" to the whole family who were sleeping, and everyone ate "Zhi Tu" together after getting up. Afterwards, the whole family put on festive costumes and went to the "Zhusuqiema" to celebrate the New Year together.


Tibetan New Year celebrationTibetan New Year celebration

Early in the morning on the first day of the new year, "Zhega" will go door to door to congratulate the New Year. In the morning, everyone brought Hada and others to worship Buddha statues in nearby temples, and paid New Year's greetings to lamas and masters who were closely related to their families. When the sun came out, two people from each family brought barley wine and "Zhusuqiema" to each village to pay New Year's greetings to each other.

When returning home, the whole family gathers for lunch, drinks, sings, and dances together; on the second day of the New Year, they start to visit relatives and friends and invite friends and relatives to their home; On the 3rd day, every household will hold “ Tuosuo” activity. And also simmer the mulberry on the top of the mountain; from the fourth to the fifteenth day of the first lunar month, it is generally the entertainment time of the Tibetan New Year; on the afternoon of the fifteenth, there is a special Guozhuang, that is, "Tashijie", which means the end of the new year. After the afternoon, each family will unload the New Year's offerings and ready to get back daily routine life and work.

3. Important days during Tibet New Year, Tibet Losar Festival

Preperations in December of Tibetan Calendar

From the last month of old year of Tibetan calendar, people have been busy for the New Year preperation, and every family cultivates barley, and offers them on the offering table in front of the Buddha to wish the harvest of food for the new year. In mid-December, households start to make barley wine and fry "kasai" (deep-fried fruit) with ghee and flour. Near the end of the last year, each family should prepare a five-grain bucket called "Zhusuqima", which is filled with ghee, barley tsampa, fried barley grains, ginseng fruit and other foods, topped with highland barley or wheat ears, and prepared a Sheep's head (lou fruit) shaped with colored ghee. All of this has the meaning of a festive harvest, and wish good weather and prosperity for people and animals in the coming year. Two days before New Year's Eve, people will clean the house inside and outside, and hang new curtains on the doors and windows. Put new matress on the beds and put New Year's pictures on them.

December 29 of Tibetan  Calendar : " Gutu"  and  "Gutuk"

In the morning of December 29, people cleaned the stove and sprinkled the "Eight Treasures Lucky" pattern with dry flour on the central wall. On the evening of the 29th day of the 12th lunar month in the Tibetan calendar, all Tibetan households have to do "patu". Tuba is also known as "ancient soil". This originates from the folk custom of exorcising ghosts and evil spirits. The ceremony is quite grand. "Ancient" (nine) (representing twenty-nine), in the process of this ceremony, two kinds of "pa soil" must be done.

One is the face shape with symbolic meaning of sound, such as the sun symbolizing wealth, majesty and honor, scripture stickers symbolizing wisdom and learning, drums symbolizing unreliability, two-faced people, etc.; , Wool, spicy, pepper, sugar, stones, small wooden sticks, and objects shaped like scriptures, the sun, the moon, etc. also have meanings, and they are cooked together with gnocchi into Tuba to predict the family's character and heart. For example, a stone indicates a hard heart, charcoal indicates a dark heart, chili indicates a stubborn mouth, and wool indicates a soft heart. Those who eat these things have to fish or spit them out on the spot to help the New Year's Eve.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KDlq7xPJV0  - gutuk


Tibetans have infused the moral content of educating people in various ancient rituals. On this evening, the whole family laughed and ate the ancient soil, and then brought the prepared pots and nine cross-shaped straws to the table before eating. Put nine drops of the "ancient soil" into the basin, and then twist nine small pieces of tsampa, while twisting and praying for good health in the coming year, then put it into the basin, cover it with a cross of wheat straw, and set it on fire. The torches are illuminated in each room to exorcise the ghosts, and the broken tile basins are sent to the road together with the torches. This ceremony is called "Gutuk"

December 30- of Tibetan Calendar - Tibetan New Year EVE

On December 30th, offerings such as candy, milk residue, cassedka, highland barley seedlings, barley wine, sheep's head, fruit, tea, ghee, salt, soil alkali, rock sugar, brown sugar, ginseng fruit, rice, and cherima are made. On the offering table in front of the Buddhist altar in the main room, then sprinkle water to clean it. All the offerings mark the harvest and wealth of the past year.

And wish a better harvest in the new year. After the offerings are placed, the characters such as Yongzhong characters should be painted on white clay outside the gate. The housewife will cook it. "Guandian" (hot highland barley wine with brown sugar, crushed milk residue, tsampa, etc.) is to be drunk on the morning of the first day of the new year, and at the same time, an offering of "kasai" and other items is offered in front of the kitchen to worship the kitchen god.

First day of Tibetan New Year

On the first day of the first lunar month of the Tibetan calendar, after the chickens croak first time in the morning, the housewives get up and go to the well and carry the first bucket of clean water as auspicious water, and then cook "Guan Dian" and give it to the whole family who are sleeping. Then everyone gets up and eats "chito" (porridge made of cereal), "kasai" (deep-fried snacks) and other food, the whole family puts on festive costumes and goes to "chema" to celebrate the new year together. Pick up a bit of tsampa and sprinkle it into the air three times in a row to make offerings to the three treasures of heaven, earth, Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, and finally eat a little by yourself. When offering tsampa to the air, along with the oral recitation of "Tashi Delepongsongcuo, Ama Bazhugu Kangshang, Dandu Dewatuwa, Tuishang Dacuo Cha Ruoruoyongwa study!"

The congratulatory speech means good luck to each other, good health, and eternal happiness. I wish the whole family will still be so happy to celebrate next year. After dawn, the elder children hold "Qiema" and bring highland barley wine to the neighbor's relatives and friends to pay New Year's greetings to each other. As soon as they enter the house, they shout: "Good luck, complete happiness, good luck for housewives, good health for your body, and wish for the coming year. We can still have a happy gathering of blessings and Sui.”

Then he presented Qima and highland barley wine to the whole family. Generally, the host and the guest toast each other with three sips of highland barley wine and eat some "Qima". After returning home from New Year’s greetings, the whole family gathers to eat lunch with beef and mutton boiled radish (round sliced radish). a special food), and then drink, sing, and dance together. On New Year's Day, in addition to paying New Year's greetings to neighbors and villagers, avoid visiting other people's houses, and avoid sweeping the floor and fetching 



Second day of Tibetan New Year
On the second day of the first lunar month, we started to go out and treat each other as guests. When you are a guest, it is customary for the host to first toast you with "three sips and a cup" (that is, drink three sips of wine first, and then drink a toast), and those who do not know how to drink have to dab their ring finger in the air three times to show their respect to the host. From the second day of junior high school, Tibetan operas and dances of Guozhuo and Xianzi dance are widely practiced in all parts of the Tibetan area. During the festival, there are also a series of entertainment activities such as wrestling, throwing, tug-of-war, horse racing and archery.

Third or fifth day of Tibetan New Year
On the third or fifth day of the new year, each family will hold a "getting off the cable" activity to update the "Dajue". This morning, the whole family went up to the roof, and put the prepared Dajue (that is to say, hanging on willow branches to represent the blue sky, white clouds, red fire, green water, golden earth, etc., which are divided into five layers of colors) Small cloth flag, and hang a block-shaped scripture cloth flag larger than other small flags, the color of which is determined according to the birth date of each family owner. , that is, green) inserted in the four corners of the roof to replace last year's old Dajue. At the same time, sang sang on the roof of the bungalow to worship the gods, everyone grabbed the tsampa to the sky, and cheered "Soah, Soah, Geggsuo Solagaro" to show auspiciousness. In the end, the whole family gathers on the roof to eat meat, drink, sing and dance, and share the slaughtering ceremony. This traditional Tibetan New Year is basically over

Conclusion of Tibetan New Year Feature
Tibetan calendar festivals vary from place to place. In the Tibetan calendar year in Lhasa, from the middle of the last month of the old year, people began to prepare things for eating, wearing, playing and using in the new year. The Tibetan Year is a festival created by the Tibetan people in the process of labor and production. It is the best time of the year for family and friends to gather together. It is the slack season at the turn of winter and spring, which reflects people's joy in autumn harvest and confidence in spring ploughing, and also expresses the pursuit and yearning of the hard-working and brave Tibetan people for the New Year and the New Year. Its content and form are full of strong ethnic and religious colors, and it is a microcosm of the entire Tibetan culture and customs.

4. How to plan a trip to experience Tibetan Losar Festival

It is recomended to arrive lhasa on the 28th  or 29th of December according to Tibetan Calendar so you can experience the “Gutu” and " Gutuk" ceremony in the evening of December 29.   In Year 2022, Tibetan New Year falls on March, 03.  So December 29 evening would be of March 01.   Dates are different each year.    In year 2023., Tibetan New Year falls on Feb.21 in Year 2023.

If you want to understand how the local Tibetan celebrate their festival, this would be a great chance.  Just need to kindly note that some monasteries might be temporarily closed for 1 or 2 days etc. which might be cause you some incoveience.  Bellowing are the recommended prorgram to experience Tibetan New year.  Normally weather is quite during Tibet New Year time

If you would like to experience Tibet Losar festival in year 2023, you can plan your trip like the bellowing
  • Feb. 19 Day 1 -  Dec. 29 of Tibetan calendar.   Arrive in Lhasa morning or after noon.   Join in the evening gutuk ceremoney  and gutu meals
  • Feb. 20 Day 2 - Dec. 30 of Tibetan Calendar.  Lhasa sightseeing of Potala Palace, Johnkang temple, Bakor street
  • Feb. 21 Day 3- Jan 01 of Tibetan calendar      Lhasa sightseeing of Drepung monastery and join in New Year celebration with local family
  • Feb. 22 Day 4- Jan 02 of Tibetan Calendar       Lhasa - Gyantse- Shigatse: Yamdrok lake, Kharola Glacier , Gyantse Kumbum and stup
  • Feb. 23 Day 5- Jan 03 of Tibetan Calendar     Shigatse - Everest base camp
  • Feb.24 Day 6 - Jan 04 of Tibetan Calendar  Everest base camp- Shigatse
  • Feb.25 Day 7- Jan 05  of Tibetan Calendar  Shigatse- Lhasa
  • Feb. 26Day 8  Jan 06 of Tibetan calendar   Lhasa 

Price of year 2022 Losar festival 8 days journey :  CNY 5800/Person , small group under 12 persons
For booking and more details, contact details are as bellowing
Email:chloe@chinaadventure.org
Cell:+ 15198028734  ( you can also add this number on wechat)


Here is the video of our Tibet Losar Festival EBC group in year 2022 : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTa1xDcaJ6g&t=20s

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