Sonam Lhosar in Sikkim in 2023

Sonam Lhosar in Sikkim in 2023
Lake Gosaikund, Nepal. Image by Sergey Pesterev , via Unsplash

  How long until Sonam Lhosar?
Sonam Lhosar
  Dates of Sonam Lhosar in Sikkim
2024 Fri, Jan 12Regional Holiday
2023 Sun, Jan 22Regional Holiday
2022 Wed, Feb 2Regional Holiday
2021 Fri, Feb 12Regional Holiday
2020 Sat, Jan 25Regional Holiday
  Summary

This is the New Year of the Tamang people and the most important festival in their calendar.

  Sonam Lhosar in other countries
Sonam Lhosar internationally
Related holidays

When is Sonam Lhosar?

This holiday is a public holiday in Nepal and Sikkim, India.

Sonam Lhosar is celebrated on the first day of the new moon during the month of Magh in the Bikram Sambat calendar.

This holiday is known as Sonam Lohosar in Nepal and as Sonam Lochar in Sikkim. It may be celebrated on a different day in India and Nepal depending on how the lunar calendar is interpreted.

Traditions of Sonam Lhosar

The word Lhosar means New Year or beginning of a new era and Sonam Lhosar is the Tamang New Year.

Tamangs are indigenous people from Nepal. They have their own culture and dialects which distinguish them from other ethnic groups. Tamang means Horse Traders. In Nepal, the main Tamang community is located in the central highlands as well around Kathmandu Valley

Tamangs divide their years into 12 cycles, each represented by a zodiac animal, following the same order as Lunar New Year. In Nepal when there was no calendar, the 12 rotation system was used to calculate peoples' ages.

Like other communities, the Tamangs celebrate their new year festival with great joy and religious fervour which lasts for five to fifteen days from place to place.

The Tamang community believes that Lord Buddha was born on the first day of the new moon, in the month of Magha. Therefore the first day of the festival is believed to be the most significant one. On this day, the main celebrations and dances take place.

Sonam Lochar is marked by offering prayers at monasteries. People also visit their relatives to seek blessings from the elders of the family. People wear colourful traditional outfits to mark the importance of the day in their lives.

The festival also sees Tamangs display their cultural heritage by engaging in traditional music and dance performances. Tamang Selo, a special group dance of the community, is performed with great enthusiasm. Many of the dances are performed to the beat of the damphu, a traditional drum.

The songs sung on the occasion of Sonam Lochar highlight the vitality of the Tamang community. These songs are also called Hwai, according to the official website of the Sikkim government. Any celebration is considered incomplete without these songs.

The Tamangs clean and decorate their house to welcome the new year. On the new year, they will visit monasteries and stupas in their traditional costumes. Buddhist monks perform masked dances and rituals to drive away negative forces and bring positivity for the family and the people.

The stupas, monasteries, houses rooftop and mountain top are festooned with colourful prayer flags and decorative items intended to bring peace and harmony.

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