March 2 – Losar in Tibet

Posted on March 2, 2014

Today is the Tibetan New Year, a part of Tibetan Buddhism. I read that it is the most important holiday in Tibet, Nepal, and the Kingdom of Bhutan.

Tibet is located on a high-altitude plain in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is now ruled by the People's Republic of China, but the Dalai Lama continues to be the spiritual leader and heads the government-in-exile. (The Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959 during the Tibetan Uprising and has since traveled the world advocating for Tibetans and Tibet.)

By the way, speaking of the Dalai Lama, this is the first year that the Dalai Lama will be celebrating Losar in the U.S. – indeed, it's the first year since his exile that the Dalai Lama has celebrated Losar anywhere other than India. The Dalai Lama happens to be on a three-week visit to the U.S. and will spend today in Minnesota! (It might be a cold New Year's!)

How do people celebrate Losar?

The past few days, the Buddhist monks have been preparing for Losar by making special noodles made of several different kinds of grain and dried cheese, and by cleaning and decorating the monasteries. Dough balls have been passed out—and inside the dough balls people find things like chilies, salt, rice, wool, or coal. I don't know if people nibble the dough to find out what is inside or if they just pull apart the ball—but hopefully they don't EAT the wool or coal! Whatever you get in your dough ball is supposed to be a comment on your character—and, even though it is supposed to be a fun tradition, coal in your dough ball is bad news!

Today there will be rituals, offerings, entertainments, debates, all manner of celebrations. At least that's what happens in Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, and maybe even India. I don't know what the celebrations in Minnesota will be like!

  • Learn more about Tibet here

  • Here is an activity related to Losar: making a Tibetan prayer flag. 

Also on this date:

Texas Independence Day 

Peasants' Day in Myanmar

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