Losar — Tibetan New Year

Losar shrine at Gyuto Center, San Jose. Photo © YoWangdu.

Losar shrine at Gyuto Center, San Jose. Photo © YoWangdu.

 

The Tibetan New Year – Losar – will be here before you know it and we want to offer you a “how-to” guide for some of the major new year traditions and dishes. The first day of Losar in 2014 will fall on March 2. By the Tibetan calendar, this will be the first day of the wood horse year of 2141.

Losar-related rituals are actually divided into two quite distinct parts. First, we close out the old year and bid goodbye to all its bad aspects and negativities, with activities that center on the eve of the last night of the year, the 29th day – Nyi Shu Gu – of the Tibetan calendar. Only after that do we turn our attention to welcoming the Losar –  the “new year”  – and inviting all good, auspicious things into our homes and our lives.

If you would like to explore more of the wonderfully comforting, unusual flavors of traditional Tibetan food, please see our Tibetan Home Cooking eBook and video series.
 

Here are a bunch of posts telling you, and sometimes showing you with video, how Tibetans celebrate Losar:

Derga with bhungue amcho Open your Generous Heart: Create a Losar Shrine
In Tibetan homes the Losar altar serves as a prominent, central symbol of a wish to cultivate a generous heart and to invoke beautiful blessings into the lives of our family, friends and community for the New Year.
Losar Shrine Insider’s Guide to Losar Eating Part 1
An introduction to Tibetan New Year food traditions leading up to Losar, including preparing Losar pastries called khapse, the Eve of New Year’s Eve soup called guthuk, and the chemar bo.
Losar Guthuk. Vegetarian Guthuk Recipe
Warm, wonderful, hearty veg version of the recipe for the popular guthuk noodle soup traditionally eaten at the end of the year. For a meat version of the soup, see our thukpa bhatuk recipe.
Khapse: Tibetan Losar Pastries. Photo © YoWangdu. Khapse Recipe: How to Make Tibetan Losar Pastries
Lobsang Wangdu teaches you how to make the most common and simple Losar khapse, called nyapsha. With video.
Changkol for Losar morning. ©yowangdu.com. Changkol: To Start Losar Morning off Right
Try some changkol, as Tibetans do, for the first dish you eat on the first day of Losar, Tibetan New Year :-)
Leading the evil spirits outside with fire after eating guthuk. Nyi-shu-Gu Traditions: The Eve of New Year’s Eve
Rituals for purifying your home and body in the closing days of the old year, including the fun guthuk noodle soup, and the lue, the effigy that symbolizes all the negativity we want to be rid of.
Shamdrey — Beef, Rice, Potatoes Dish Your Insider’s Guide to Losar Eating — Part 2
A peek into a contemporary Tibetan farmer family’s Losar food traditions for the first three days of Losar, like the bringing in of the important first water of the year at 3 a.m.(!) on the first day of Losar.
Dresil Recipe: Tibetan Sweet Rice. Dresil Recipe: Easy Tibetan Sweet Rice
Learn an easy, authentic recipe for the Tibetan sweet rice served at Losar and other special occasions.
Ready to drink! Photo © YoWangdu.com. Tibetan Chang: How to Make Rice Beer
Kelsang shows you, with a video, an authentic, easy recipe for drechang, Tibetan rice beer.
Making Pa Tsampa: It Doesn’t Get More Tibetan Than This!
An introduction to the most uniquely Tibetan food, tsampa. At Losar, we use tsampa for the chemar bo, for the changkol (khapse and chang dish which we will post about shortly), and to eat on the first day of Losar, in pa.
Tibetan Butter Tea — Po Cha Butter Tea – Recipe to Make Your Own Tibetan Tea (Po Cha)
Authentic Tibetan tea recipe by Lobsang Wangdu. Tibetans traditionally drink a bunch of po cha during Losar, though that isn’t exactly special, since they drink po cha all the time anyway :-)
Thue: Tsampa, Butter, Cheese, Sugar Thue: An Original Tibetan Treat
Learn how to make thue, a sweet, cheesy, buttery treat often eaten at Losar and other special occasions.
Momom1 Momos — Recipe for Tibetan Dumplings
The most well-known and beloved of Tibetan dishes, momos are popular at Losar parties, though traditionally we do not eat them on the first day of Losar, as the closed shape is considered inauspicious for that day.

If you would like to explore more of the wonderfully comforting, unusual flavors of traditional Tibetan food, please see our Tibetan Home Cooking eBook and video series.

 

 

 

By Lobsang Wangdu

Comments

  1. Yangchen says:

    Tashi Delek,

    Could you explain why we keep and display dummy Sheep head and Green wheat or maize plant (Luphu)? This question been often asked.

    In my understanding it is from Bonpa tradition or nomads offering gratitude for given good crop and livestock and looking forward for better one year ahead.

    Please clarify. Thank you.

    • Hi Yangchen,
      We don’t know 100% for sure, but we agree that the Sheep head and Luphu are very likely traditions coming down from nomadic and/or farmers’ and perhaps Bon traditions related to the abundance of crops and herds. If you understand Tibetan, here is a very interesting explanation of the history, in which the speaker says that even the kapse of the derkha represent very old traditions of putting actual sheep’s head and/or bones on the shrine — so the bungu amchoe, for example, which we relate to donkey’s ears, are meant to represent large bones! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEE_hWQ9Igk

  2. WOW! What beautiful altar! I sincerely rejoice, thank you for sharing . M

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