Gyalpo Lhosar Celebrated Today

  •   2018-02-16  |  nepaltraveller.com

Gyalpo Lhosar is a new year celebration of the Sherpa and Tibetan people that falls on the month of February. To celebrate the advent of a New Year, monasteries are lit with incense and butter lamps, and people perform traditional dances to wish for a prosperous year ahead.

Gyalpo Lhosar is a celebration for Tibetan New Year that falls on the month of February. The term Lhosar literally translates into “new year” as “Lo” stands for a “year” and “Sar” means “new”. Although Nepalis of many castes celebrate Gyalpo Lhosar, it is a prominent festival for Sherpas and Tibetans.

Originally, ancient celebrations of Lhosar occurred solely on the winter solstice. It was then moved to coincide with the Chinese and Mongolian New Year by a leader of a Gelug school of Buddhism. In ancient days, people went to local springs to perform rituals of gratitude. They made offerings to Nagas, water spirits who activated water element in the area. The smoke offerings were made to the local spirits associated with the natural world around us.

Gyalpo Lhosar is celebrated for 15 days, with the main celebration lasting for the first three days. Families prepare for Lhosar in advance by cleaning and decorating their houses, buying new clothes, resolving unsolved issues, and by preparing a special snack called Khapse, a deep fried pastry on the eve of Lhosar. The words “sheep’s head” and “beginning of the year” sounds similar in Tibetan, so it is customary to fashion a sheep’s head from colored butter as a decoration during this festival.

The Lhosar festival today simply revolves around family, food, and festivities. On the first day of Lhosar, a special offering called Dherka is made to the god that mostly contains snacks like Khapse and bulug along with fresh fruits, sweets, and dry fruits. People start their day by eating a special rice meal mixed with raisins and drinking a special buttermilk tea. They visit the monasteries and receive blessings from the Rinpoche (Buddhist gurus) and elder members of the family. A special beverage called changkol or chhaang (made out of rice, millet, and corn) is consumed during this day, which is believed to have health benefits. This homemade beer is offered to gods and later served to the family members after prayers.

During Lhosar, the Buddhist monasteries are cleaned and decorated with prayer flags. Devotees especially flock around the temple of Boudhanath and Swayambhunath to pray to the gods and receive blessings. The monks at various monasteries also perform special dances to the beat of traditional instruments. People make offerings, burn incense, light butter lamps and take kora around the temple to pray and wish for a good and fulfilling year ahead.

 

Nisha Maharjan is a content writer at nepaltraveller.com

Photos by Shree Krishna

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