Lhosar, an ethnic New Year of Nepal and a festival celebrated by Tibetans, Sherpas Gurung, and Tamang community people all over the world.
The festival of Lhosar means A New Year in Nepali, including Nepal, this festival is celebrated in many other places like Bhutan, Tibet, and some parts of India as well. A public holiday is declared by the government of Nepal during this festival.
The word Lhosar actually consists of two words, ‘Lho’ which means year and ‘Sar’ which means new in the Tamang language. The festival falls in the month of December, January or February depending upon the lunar calendar and is believed to be the first ever traditional practice in the world based on Chinese Lunar Calendar.
There are three types of Lhosar observed in Nepalese communities,
This festival falls at the end of the Nepali month of Mangsir and beginning of Poush (mid December). It is known as the “Gurungs’ New Year,” and is one of the greatest festivals of Gurung community celebrated in Nepal. According to the Tibetans, it is only a preparation before the actual Lhosar.
The central area where Sonam Lhosar is celebrated is Tibet, but certain ethnic groups in Nepal, particularly the Tamang, also keep it. Pork, chicken, mutton, fish, and sweet deserts are consumed in the Sonam Lhosar. The Tamangs constitute eight percent of Nepal’s population, yet the festival is celebrated with great joy within the country.
It was named Gyalbo because it was celebrated by the Tibetan Royal families and Royal Gumbas as well as some significant Tibetan Lamas. In Nepal, it is mostly celebrated by Sherpa, Tamang, Bhutia and Yolmo community people. Different communities and different places have their own way of celebration.
Every house organizes party and invitations are circulated among friends and relatives. On the first day of the year, people arise early to place water and offerings on their household shrines. They cook delicious traditional foods, play music, wear traditional or new clothes, dance, and enjoy togetherness. This is a time of hospitality and merrymaking, with feasts, dances, and archery competitions.
The Tamang calendar has 12 years named after 12 different animals and only after completing the first 12 years, the same year is said to be repeated. According to the legends, when Gautam Buddha was about to leave for the heaven, he asked the animals to pay him a visit before he left. Only 12 animals were present there, hence, as a parting gift, he named the years according to order of their arrival and Lhosar begins on the first day of the first month of these years. The celebrations of Lhosar actually begins on the 29th day of the 12th month of the calendar.
Although the traditions of Losar have adapted to modern times and busier schedules, the joy, happiness and essence of Lhosar is still same.