It is another new year that the Spring Festival is approaching. After the extraordinary 2020, the year 2021 is worth looking forward to.
This year, the Tibetan New Year and the Spring Festival "meet" again. It can be described as "double happiness"! In order to welcome this grand and solemn festival, the Tibetan people already have been making intensive preparations one month ago. Hang prayer flags, cut cypress branches, post New Year pictures, eat ancient tutu, etc.
How is the Tibetan people preparing for the Tibetan New Year different from Spring Festival? Let’s find out it for you who are curious!
Historical Origin of Tibetan New Year
The Tibetan New Year is a traditional festival of the Tibetan people, also known as the Lothar Festival. The Tibetan calendar year began in 1027 AD and has a history of more than 970 years.
Prayer Flag Tree
Tibetan people will start preparing for the New Year from December of the previous year in Tibetan calendar.
In recent days, it is not difficult to find that many Tibetan friends have prayer flags piled up in front of their homes. These prayer flags are also prepared for the Tibetan New Year. The "prayer flag tree" refers to the colorful prayer flags sewn on the branches, and the order of colors is very particular, from top to bottom, they are blue, white, red, green and yellow, representing blue sky, white clouds, flame, green water and loess separately. Generally, on the third or fourth day of the Tibetan New Year, everyone will wear costumes, bring food and offerings, gather on the roof, hold a grand "tosang" (blessing) ceremony, and replace the old prayer flags and finally put on new colorful prayer flags, which is a beautiful roof prayer.
Haircut, Wash and Dress
A few days before the Tibetan New Year, Tibetan men, young and old, will shave their hair, while Tibetan women will wash their hair. This is an expression of good luck for the coming year. If not, it means that the family or heart with grief and unwilling to dress up.
It is the same as the Han nationality’s "Sweeping Dust in the Twelfth Lunar Month" before the Spring Festival. Since December 28th, Tibetans will clean up and down the house, inside and outside the house, village walkways, field corners, and even the drawers inside the house. However, for the cleaning of ceilings and chimneys, they will choose auspicious days such as 3, 5, 7, and 9. Afterwards, each household must transport the cleared garbage and weeds to their fields before noon on December 30, and light them on the morning of the first day of the new year.
Buy New Year Goods
When the Tibetan New Year is approaching, Tibetan people will buy the new year's goods one by one, including "Fruit Harvest Bucket"-Chema Box, exquisitely crafted butter flowers, Tibetan New Year flowers-Rosa Meiduo (Rosa means Tibetan New Year, Meido means flowers), yak jerky, various shapes Kasai, ginseng fruit, chema, etc.
Post New Year Pictures
In many places in Tibet, due to the influence of the Han nationality’s Spring Festival, New Year pictures and couplets are also posted at the door of the room, but the content of the New Year pictures is mainly Tibetan auspicious objects such as lions, dragons, tigers, etc., and their couplets are blessings words written in Tibetan.
December 29th is New Year's Eve. On this day, every household needs to put new curtains on the windows and doors, put new prayer flags on the roof, and use white powder to draw auspicious patterns such as crosses on the door, beams and kitchen. It is very festive. At night, the whole family members sit around and eat the regular "Gutu" (meaning broken nine). "Gutu" is a porridge cooked with noodles, mutton, and ginseng fruit.
Before cooking, the housewife will quietly pack some items such as stones, wool, chili, charcoal, coins, etc. into the dough. These items foreshadow the person’s fate and heart. Stones represent cruel heart, wool represents soft heart, charcoal represents that heart is black, chili represents that mouth is not forgiving, and coin indicates prosperous fortune. Those who eat these must spit it out in public. So everyone talks with each other, laughs, and happy together.
Afterwards, the whole family will use tsampa to make a witch and two bowls, and put the leftover "gutu" and bones into the tsampa bowl. A woman runs and throws the witch and leftovers outside. A man lights a ball of hay and follows closely, saying: "The devil comes out, the devil comes out!" The hay will be burned to ashes with the witch and leftovers. At the same time, the children set off firecrackers to drive away the demons and usher in an auspicious New Year.
On the night of New Year's Eve, housewives have to prepare a reunion dinner, which is similar to the Han’s Chinese New Year reunion dinner. Before dinner, if there is a Buddhist monk in the family, he should first recite the blessing sutra (or prayer sutra) in the sutra hall, prepare it on the sutra shrine, place it flat with barley and butter, insert the eight treasure board of good luck, and then light butter lamps and Tibetan incense. At this time, the whole family reunite and have dinner together. After meal, they usually drink butter tea and highland barley wine, and chat together.