Talking Tables' Kelsang this week celebrated Tibetan New Year with her family:
'The Tibetan New Year or Losar (Lo-Year, Sar-New) is celebrated by Tibetans around the world and it generally falls on February or March depending on the first day of the Lunisolar calendar. In Tibet, the celebrations go on for around 2 weeks but most people only celebrate for the first 3 days. It is the biggest national holiday in Tibet similar to Chinese New Year in China and Christmas in the western world.
I had not celebrated Losar with my family for around 16 years since I moved to London so I was very excited to be able to relive my childhood traditions with my grandmother who has recently moved to live with me. The preparations started two weeks prior to the main day with us preparing to make Chaang which is a traditional drink made with fermented rice similar to rice wine. Cooked rice is mixed with yeast and left to rest in a warm place until it ferments and produces a juice which is very sweet and can be alcoholic depending on how long is left “sleeping”. One week before Losar we made Khapse which is in essence a type of fried biscuit, different shapes and sizes of Khapse are made to use as a structural offering to the gods.
On the day before Losar, new years eve, we spring clean the entire house and decorate all the offerings to the gods which includes various fruits and nuts and seeds. I believe traditionally this was done to hope for a bountiful harvest later in the year. In Tibet my grandmother would have lit many small butter lamps for the gods but I used our TT candle holders to light candles and also string lights to add a bit of magic to the setting.
On Losar day we wake up early in the morning, get all dressed up, and the first thing you do is offer your wishes to the gods by offering them bits of barley and Tibetan tea which is made with salt and butter! We then eat Dasey which is rice with butter, sugar and raisins with Chaang for breakfast. The rest of the days are normally spent visiting monasteries and visiting family and eating a lot of Khapse. I can’t wait to do it all again next year and make it a tradition!'