Losar (Tibetan New Year) 2019

Nama Mama (1)Happy New Year Again! After the resolution making and counting down that happens just before January 1st, we get to experience another New Year here, the one that jives with the Chinese lunar calendar. This Tibetan New year was probably the best I’ve ever experienced, and there are a few reasons for that:

1. I went to the village with a different attitude, reminding myself that the best course of action was to not make any plans or have any expectations, just go with the flow.

2. We borrowed a car, which allowed us to come and go as we pleased, and it was much more convenient, especially with an infant.

3. This year Bawu (Grandpa) turned 80 years old, so it was extra festive in the family house

Nama Mama

It seems that every year I have the opportunity to experience different things. Some years I attended the bonfires, others I have seen the play that is put on. Sometimes I participate in the tsampa cleansing ritural (rubbing roasted barley flour mixed with butter, cheese and water on our arms and face to take away the bad stuff). I’ve been able to see the drum dancing, and watch the creation of the orge-like tsampa creature that later gets tossed into the river.

This year I was able do some different activities. It is customary for households who have a member that turns 70, 80, or 90 years old in that year to give money to the village children. On one of the mornings, children wear their best Tibetan clothing and go around to all the households with these elderly folks to collect money (usually ten yuan for each kid).

Previously I had not been told about this custom, and this year I was able to participate on behalf of baby PY. With our babies and KL in tow, I followed a niece from the village from house to house and collected money for the baby and encouraged Autumn to do the same. What an interesting tradition!

Nama Mama

While I didn’t see the drum dancing this year, I did have the very special opportunity to follow the dancers up to the incense offering place at the foot of the mountain. Usually women are not allowed to take part in this activity, so I felt very privileged to have the chance to observe it. It is only because I am a foreigner that it was ok.

Nama Mama (1)
Since we had a car, we took some side trips on our way back home. We went to visit a monk friend, went to a big stupa (pictured above), and went to Rebgong and Gomer village. It makes me think that having our own car would not be that bad after all!

Nama Mama (2)
On the last day of the 15 day New Year Holiday, we went to Kumbum Monastery. We went to see the amazing butter sculptures, and to visit another monk friend. It was another nice day, we avoided the crowds by staying on the upper roads and could watch the pilgrims and tourists in their colorful clothes below. When it was time to see the butter sculptures we were escorted down and got a great view that we could enjoy for as long as we wanted. We were so fortunate to have such a great opportunity!
Nama Mama (2)
Can you believe that all of that is made out of butter? And that is only a portion of the two displays of butter sculptures!

Nama Mama (3) So like I said before, this Losar was the best I’ve celebrated so far. I’m so glad that I have the opportunity to share it with you!

4 thoughts on “Losar (Tibetan New Year) 2019

  1. I’d like to post to my Facebook page your photo of the butter sculptures with this comment: Tibetan Religious figures Sculptured in Butter. This photo of the butter sculptures at Kumbum Monastery, a Tibetan gompa (religious building) in Huangzhong County, Xining, Qinghai, China, was snapped by Nama Mama at the end of this New Year’s Losar (Tibetan New Year) holiday. https://namamamataketwo.wordpress.com/author/nemameido/.


  2. Shanell says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. It’s absolutely fascinating to learn about the Tibetan traditions! I’m glad you had a good time.


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