Tibetan New Year (Losar)
Losar the Tibetan word for “new year“. The Tibetan calendar is based on Tibetan astrology, a synthesis of Indian and Chinese astrology. Tibetans follow a lunar calendar, so the date of Losar changes from year to year. It begins on February 24 in 2020. It sometimes falls on the same date as Chinese New Year, but not always.
Losar is an important holiday in Tibet, Bhutan and for certain ethnic groups in Nepal and India. Losar is celebrated for 15 days, with the main celebrations in the first three days. On the first day of Losar called Lama Losar a beverage called changkol is made from chhaang (a Tibetan cousin of beer). The second day called Gyalpo Losa is known as King’s Losar (gyalpo losar). The third day is Choe-Kyong Losar on this day, laypeople make special offerings to the dharma protectors. They raise prayer flags from hills, mountains, and rooftops and burn juniper leaves and incense as offerings. The Butter Lamp Festival. Chunga Choepa is held 15 days after Losar.
Losar is traditionally preceded by the five-day practice of Vajrakilaya. Because the Uyghurs adopted the Chinese calendar, and the Mongols and Tibetans adopted the Uyghur calendar, Losar occurs near or on the same day as the Chinese New Year and the Mongolian New Year, but the traditions of Losar are unique to Tibet and predate both Indian and Chinese influences.
The Losar is also celebrated in Nepal and India as well, where there is a strong concentration of the Buddhist population in the states like Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Himachal and Ladakh in Kashmir.