Dates of Losar
Losar is Tibetan New Year and marks the start of the Tibetan year which is based on a 12 lunar month calendar. The day it falls on is very close to the date of Chinese New Year. The date each year is determined by astrologers based in Dharmsala, India.
The Tibetan calendar is in use throughout the Himalayan region and the New Year is a public holiday in Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan. It is a regional holiday in the state of Sikkim in India.
Losar means New Year (lo - year, sar - new) in Tibetan. It is the most important festival in the Tibetan calendar.
The origins of Losar can be traced back to pre-Buddhist period and the Bon religion and was most likely celebrated to mark the winter solstice. To mark the beginning of the end of Winter, festivities included offering large quantities of incense to the local spirits and deities. When the region converted to Buddhism, the date was shifted by Buddhist monks to match up with their lunar calendar.
The Tibetan New Year period lasts for fifteen days, with the first three days and New Year's Eve being the main celebrations
On Tibetan New Year's Eve a custom is make a special noodle dish called guthuk. In the dish are dumplings with different ingredients inside them. Finding a certain ingredient is a light-hearted omen for the coming year. Finding a white coloured ingredient such as rice or salt is considered a good omen; finding a pebble means good luck; finding a chilli means the person is talkative and finding a black ingredient means you have are 'black-heated'. Interestingly, in some European Christmas customs, finding coal in your presents means the same thing.
On Tibetan New Year's Eve, the monks do a protector deities' puja (ceremony) to drive out evil spirits. and begin preparations for the Losar celebrations.
On the first day of the new year, people rise early and place water and offerings on their household altars to ensure a good harvest.