It seems like just welcomed in a new year. Now, it’s time to celebrate the lunar new year or as my Tibetan Buddhist pals like to call it, Losar (lo means year and sar mean new).
Losar celebrations date back to the pre-Buddhist period, and the indigenous spirituality called Bon. Today, however, it’s inseparable from Buddhist practices to prepare for and celebrate the new year. A good house cleaning gets things physically tidy while a days of rituals devoted to removing obstacles and negativity tidies up the spiritual end of things. Each Buddhist lineage has its own unique set of ceremonies for the new year. Nyingma lineage likes a good Vajrakilya practice while Karma Kagyu Lineage swears by Mahakala. Who is right? Both. Just like in real life, one size does not fit all in dharma practice.
New years day starts off fresh with special prayers and ceremonies for longevity, prosperity, and auspicious activity. It is sure to include a fire offering followed by special snacks and beverages. Momo (dumplings), kapse (fried bread), chang (barley beer), andPö (Tibetan butter tea) is are always on the menu along with other treats, both sweet and savory. Festive games, dancing and music round out the celebrations. That is unless there has been the death of a close family member or high lama. Then the entertainment is abstained from out of respect.
For His Holiness the Dalai Lama, it’s traditional for him to consult the Ngechung oracle during Losar. For everyone else who doesn’t have an oracle of their own, it’s a time to celebrate and spend time with family and friends.
Tashi Deleg Losar! (auspicious blessing for the new year!) and welcome to 2147 the year of the male iron mouse!