Losar Festival or Tibetan New Year is one of the greatest and most awaited events for local people. It is usually celebrated between February and March. Celebrations last for about two weeks and feature lots of traditions and events.
Where to go
The best place to witness the celebrations is Lhasa. You can see colorful parades, exciting competitions and ancient ceremonies, traditional dancing and chanting, and lots of other performances.
The last two days of the previous year are called Gutor. At this time people begin their preparation for Losar. During the first Gutor day, these preparations usually include some housework like cleaning and cooking special dishes. At night local people will use a torch, called Tsampa, to get rid of evil spirits and old things. At the end of the ceremony, the torch is also burnt at the crossroads. The second day of Gutor features some religious ceremonies, gifts, and donations to monks.
On the first day of New Year, called Choe-Kyong Losar, people get up very early, take a bath, and dress up in new clothes. Wives wake up first for the “first water of the year” and prepare all the traditional dishes with this water, which is believed to bring luck for the whole family.
Prayer flags on the roofs of houses, on hills, and mountains are also changed during this day. Families usually pray and eat together and make gifts to each other. On the second day of New Year, locals visit their relatives and friends. The third day is usually spent at local monasteries. The last 15th day of the celebration is the Butter Lamp Festival. Monks perform some special purification rituals and then create huge yak butter sculptures, which are displayed in monasteries.