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Losar tashi delek - I wish you prosperity and good will by Tenzin Namda (Tibetan new immigrant)

Losar means new year in Tibetan, it is the most important traditional holidays in Tibetan culture. Tibetans start new year celebrations on December 29 of the Tibetan calendar and lasts for 15 days. Depending on the year, Tibetan new years and lunar new years could be celebrated on the same day, one day apart, or one month apart.

On the 29th of the last month of Tibetan calendar, everyone in the family will gather around the table and enjoy guthuk together. Guthuk is made from dough, similar to gnocchi, and they are made into different shapes to represent different things. Some are shaped like sheep wool to represent kindness, coins represent prosperity and wealth, etc. Different shapes of guthuk are also used to foretold the fortune of the family in the coming year. After the new year dinner, many Tibetans will go out to participate in ceremonies that ward off evil spirits, which serves as a symbol of removing evil spirits and bad fortune from home. On the 30th of the last month, it is important to clean your house, paint the walls, put on new curtains, and prepare offerings for the three Refuges in the shrine.

On the new year’s day, women will get up early to make butter tea, chhaang and dresil rice to share with family. Then incenses and butter lamps will be lit and offered to the three Refuges to pray for peace and happiness on earth. And finally, we will take grains of highland barley from our phyemar boxes and toss them into the air, exchange khata, drink chhaang, and greet each other saying “Losar tashi delek,” which means I wish you prosperity and good will in the new year. It is the most common Tibetan new year greetings. On the second day of the new year, it is customary to visit family and friends, and offer barley in the phyemar boxes to visitors. On the second of new year, many people would also go to local community centers to enjoy traditional Tibetan songs and dances. On the third day of the new year, Tibetans go to the mountains to hang colorful prayer flags and offer incenses made from herbs.

Tibetan new years are the best childhood memories I have. Nowadays, new year only means getting one year older to me, and a time I reflect on my unexpected life. Today, I am far from home, although it is not possible to recreate the traditional Tibetan new year in Taiwan, the Taiwan Tibetan Welfare Association had set up a Tibetan culture center in Taoyuan City. It is a platform that brings Tibetans in Taiwan together, and a Tibetan language and cultural center. The center focuses on passing on Tibetan culture, and is looking to interact with different ethnic groups in Taiwan. I want to thank the people of Taiwan and the Taiwan government for their friendship and support, which allowed Tibetan culture to continue to develop and thrive in Taiwan.

Tibetan new year prayer is a ceremony that combined ethnic significance and religious tradition
Photo 1 – Tibetan new year prayer is a ceremony that combined ethnic significance and religious tradition
Traditional Tibetan new year ceremony in a Tibetan community
Photo 2 – Traditional Tibetan new year ceremony in a Tibetan community