Tibet New Year (Losar)

    The Tibetan New Year, or Loasr, is the most important festival for Tibetans and people of the Tibetan-inhabited areas.

    "Chemar", a rectangular box containing zanba (roasted highland barley flour) decorated with wheat ears is an auspicious Tibetan decoration to pray for good harvest and good luck in the Tibetan New Year, which falls on Feb. 9 this year. Before the Tibetan New Year or Losar, every Tibetan family will offer Chemar on their Tibetan-styled cabinet for blessings. When guests come to visit during Losar, relatives and friends will greet each other “Happy New Year”, holding Chemars and barley wine in their hands. It is a custom that guests with Chemars call loudly outside the doors, while the hosts hurry out to meet them and send back good wishes. As soon as a visitor enters the house, the host will pinch a little amount of zanba with his thumb and index finger and spill it into the air for three times, and then he will put a bit of zanba into his mouth with a greeting "Tashi Delek", meaning good luck and happiness in Tibetan. Then the host and guests will begin chatting and drinking highland barley wine. The most important celebration happens two days before Losar when Tibetan families gather together to eat “Guthuk”. “Guthuk” is a kind of dumpling soup with peas, small white stones, lambs’ wool, pepper and salt, each with a special meaning. If someone gets peas, it means he is smart and flexible; if someone eats little white stone, it means he is pure-hearted; if someone gets lamb’s wool, it means he is gentle; if someone gets pepper, it means he is outspoken; and someone gets salt, it means he is “lazy”. Whatever one gets, it will burst into laughter, bringing in a spirit of joy and merrymaking for the family.

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