And The Year Of The Female Iron Hare.
The word Losar is a Tibetan word for New Year. LO means year and SAR means new.
The origin of Losar is not properly known but records say that it can be dated back before the advent of Buddhism in Tibet. In those times in winter, a spiritual custom was held where people burned and offered huge numbers of Incense please spirits and the God. This custom later evolved as an annual Buddhist festive occasion. It is said that this festival began when an old woman called Bhelma showed how to measure time by measuring phases of moon. The festival generally occurs during flowering of the apricot trees and is believed to have first celebrated as a traditional farmers festival. Later when the principles of Astrology was introduced to Tibet, this festival came to be popularly known as Losar.
Losar, also popularly known as Bal Gyal Lo. Bal meaning Tibet, Gyal means king and Lo literally means year. This festival is known as Bal Gyal Lo because it started after the first king came into throne. The calendar is made up of twelve lunar months and Losar begins on the first day of the first month. In the monasteries, the celebrations for the Losar begin on the twenty-ninth day of the twelfth month. That is the day before the Tibetan New Year’s Eve. On that day the monasteries do a protector deities’ puja (a special kind of ritual) and begin preparations for the Losar celebrations. The custom that day is to make special noodle called guthuk. See recipe here. Also, dough balls are given out with various ingredients hidden in them such as chilies, salt, wool, rice and coal.
The last day of the year is a time to clean and prepare for the approaching New Year. In the monasteries it is a day of preparations. The finest decorations are put up and elaborate offerings are made of called “Lama Losar”. In the early dawn of this day, the monks of Namgyal Monastery offer a sacrificial cake (Tse- tor) on top of the main temple (Potala in Tibet) to the supreme hierarchy of Dharma protectors, the glorious goddess Palden Lhamo. Led by the Dalai Lama, the abbots of three great monasteries, lamas, reincarnated monks, government officials and dignitaries join the ceremony and offer their contemplative prayers, while the monks of Namgyal Monastery recite the invocation of Palden Lhamo. After the completion of this ceremony, all assemble in the hall called Excellence of Samsara and Nirvana for a formal greeting ceremony. Seated on his or her respective cushions, everyone exchanges the traditional greeting, “Tashi delek”.
In order to wish the His Holiness the Dalai Lama good luck for the coming year, consecrated long-life pills (tse-ril) made out of roasted barley dough are offered to him by the representatives of the three great monasteries, the two Tantric Colleges, etc. Then entertainers (garma) perform a dance of good wishes. And two senior monks stage a debate on Buddhist philosophy, and conclude their debate with an auspicious recitation composed especially for the event, in which the whole spectrum of Buddhist teaching is first briefly reviewed. A request is made to His Holiness and to all holders of the doctrine to remain for a long time amongst beings in samsara in order to serve them through their enlightened activities. The official ceremony of the day then concludes with a ceremonial farewell to the His Holiness, who then retires to his palace.
The second day of Losar is known as King’s Losar (gyal-po lo-sar) because officially the day is reserved for a secular gathering in the hall of Excellence of Samsara and Nirvana. His Holiness and his government exchange greetings with both monastic and lay dignitaries, such as representatives of China, India, Bhutan, Nepal, Mongolia and other foreign visitors. Then from the third day onwards, the people and monks begin to celebrate and enjoy the festive season. In Tibet before the Chinese came, Losar had been celebrated for fifteen days or more.