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  Tibet New Year  
 

Day before New Year's Eve (29th day of the 12th lunar month)

Usually, explanations of Tibetan festivals start with looking at the New Year's Day celebrations. However the year's end is also of special importance and Tibetans observe 'Gutor' while they are busy preparing for the New Year's Day.

Starting on the 23rd day of the 12th month, people prepare for the most important festival of the year. Man will purchase dresses, cloth, sugar, barley beer, rice, flour, tea etc. Woman will make `tsamba', butter, cakes, and will fry foods, wash head, plait braids. The feasts include a substantial amount of 'Dresi' a sweet buttered rice with added raisins, 'Droma', which is rice boiled with small potatoes, various meats, fruits, breads, chang, butter tea among others. 'Kapse', a fried sweet that comes in different shapes and forms, are a must. Tibetans are supposed to see in the New Year with these sweets piled high on their tray.
On the 29th or 30th, herdsman will use flour to paint the `eight auspicious emblems' and use plasters to draw the reversed `swastika' for good luck. The monasteries will spread foods for the hungry ghosts and chase away demons.

On the New Year: (1st-3rd day of the 1st lunar month)

Known as losar, it is the most popular festival in Tibet. In ancient times when the peach tree was in blossom, it was considered as the starting of a new year. Since the systematization of the Tibetan calendar in 1027 A.D., The first day of the first month became fixed as the new year. It is an occasion when Tibetan families reunite and expect a better coming year. Specially made offerings are offered to family shrine deities; doors are painted with religious symbols; the residence will be cleaned and milk curd will be mixed with barley flour to make curd-pastry. On the New Year's Eve, On 'Gutor', Tibetan families eat 'Guthuk' a soup with dumplings, in the evening. The dumplings contain beans, broken pieces of wood, chillis, wool, charcoal, or pieces of paper on which various words are written. People eat them in turn and they tell their New Year's fortune by checking what the ingredients of the one they chose. There is also a game played at this time where some of the family members decide on an unlucky mark in advance and the one who picks it has to do a forfeit. After the dinner it is the Festival of Banishing Evil Sprits! Torches are lit and people are running around with a doll representing a fierce god, setting off bundles of straw and hand-held fire crackers, yelling to throw rubbish on to the streets to get rid of evil spirits from their houses. The New Year is coming! Before the dawn on the New Year's Day, housewives fetch their first buckets of water (river water before the disappearing of stars) in the new year home and prepare breakfast, then wake up everybody. People will dress in their best, and take seats according to seniorities. The eldest will toss a little bit of `tsamba' to the sky to salute Buddha and bodhisattva. Then the eldest will bless the junior one with `Tashi Delek'(good luck and all wishes fulfilled), Young people wear chuba and pay their first visit of the year to a temple with their family early in the morning, and response with `I pray for a healthy and fortunate life for you. Hopefully, we will gather together next year to enjoy again.' On New Year's Day, Tibetans are supposed to offer ornaments called 'Chemar' and chang beer to their households’ deity and to the water dragon who takes care of their water supply. Be careful as the chang served is strong enough to get drunk. People visit their neighborhoods and exchange their Tashi Delek blessings in the first two days. Feast is the theme during the session. They visit each others feasts and have parties full of drinking and singing. The men don't miss an opportunity to enjoy gambling, with games of 'Sho' (dice), 'Pakchen' (mah-jong), etc. On New Year's Day everyone spends time with their family or neighbors and then start paying visits to their relatives on the second day. Children also have a good time New Year's gifts of candies, etc. On the third day, old prayer flags will be replaced with new ones. Other folk activities may be held in some areas to celebrate the events.

After the day (4th day of the 1st lunar month)

Starting with the third day of the first month, people visit friends and relatives. Banquets will be arranged. People salute each other with `Happy New year', `Tashi Delek'. This is the festival time which lasts five days. There will be art performances as opera, `gouzhang' roundelay, singing contest, sport events as tug-of war, rope skipping, the broad jump, the high jump, horse race, archery, wrestle, Tibetan card game etc.

 
     
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