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Tibetan New Year

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Tibetan New Year (food, traditions, losar, decorations, ritual, soup).According to history, Tibetans were nomads who coexist in harsh environments on Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Tibetans were having a unique way of living with deep religious inspiration. They celebrate all their celebrations with dance and singing as on their crop harvest. As the time passed, they took the time when at the beginning of New Year highland barley got ripe.

ibetan New Year (food, traditions, losar, decorations, ritual, soup)
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ibetan New Year (food, traditions, losar, decorations, ritual, soup)

An unexpected communication and brotherhood arose between Han and Tibetan after the marriage of Princess Wencheng with King Songtsan Gampo in 641 AD for peace and harmony. There was a cultural exchange of agriculture, astrology, Buddhism, and much more between Han and Tibetan.

After some time, the Tibetan calendar adopted some holidays according to the Chinese calendar. Here comes the appearance of the Tibetan New Year on the Tibetan calendar. The exact date of the Tibetan New Year changes according to the Chinese solar calendar. The following situations may occur:

• Day 1 of Tibetan New Year can be on the same day on the Chinese solar calendar.

• Day 1 of Tibetan New Year can be one day earlier or later. 

• Day 1 of Tibetan New Year may be one month earlier or later.

 During the festival, people celebrate through some ancient ceremonies which represent the struggle between good and evil. Lamas are passing fire torches through the crowds. People dance the deer and amusing battles between the king and his ministers, and so on, people are cheering for the coming New Year by dancing, singing, and merrymaking.


Tibetan New Year represents unique food. There are traditional dishes that are served during the celebration. There you can taste one important and unique dish every day. Most of them include vegetables, fruits, and sweets. 

Tibetan New Year Food Recipes:


Tibetan potato curry is known as Xiangzhai and is one of the traditional dishes served on New Year. This dish is usually served on the evening of the first day of New Year. 


Rice and potato stew are also known as Droma, it is its name in the Tibetan language. It is one of the delicious dishes that is commonly made on New Year. This dish is a combination of sweet and oil. 


Sweet Saffron Rice is also known as dresi, It is a traditional Tibetan dessert served commonly at weddings and New Year. It is a sweet buttered rice combination garnished with dry fruits and flavored with saffron to give it a lovely yellow color.

Kapse Fritters

New Year is a time to cheer, greet, pray and seek blessings. Numerous delicious dishes are made to celebrate the Tibetan New Year. To accompany the savories, appetizing and luscious kapse fritters are made. They are fried bread made in different shapes and forms.

Traditions:Tibetan New Year

The main activities performed on the Tibetan New Year include:

Spring Cleaning 

Tibetan people clean their houses thoroughly before the New Year, which is the symbol of cleaning away the bad luck of the previous year and making their homes ready for receiving good luck.

The kitchens are especially cleaned because this is the place where food is prepared, and it is the most important part of the house.

Enjoying a Reunion Dinner

On Tibetan New Year’s Dinner, families dress up and have a New Year’s dinner to welcome the blessings of the new year together, which is similar to the Han religion (Han is the majority Chinese ethnicity) Chinese New Year feast. Big families of several generations sit around to enjoy the food and spend quality of time together.

Exorcizing Ghosts

After the family dinner on New Year’s Eve, Tibetan people have a short ceremony for sweeping away evil spirits. During the festival, people walk through the house by holding a torch and loudly shouting, ‘get out’. Its purpose is to drive out the bad spirit from their houses on this special occasion.

Offering Sacrifices to Gods

On Tibetan New Year’s, Tibetans get up early in the morning and put on new clothes according to their rituals after having a bath. Then they worship their Gods by placing some offerings in the front of their household things.

The offering consists of animals and demons made by their own from a kind of dough called chemar (It is a box of wheat and highland barley flour which can be made into tsampa).

Fetching the First Bucket of Water

According to their tradition, on the first day of the New Year, the women has to get up very early in the morning to fetch the new year’s first bucket of water from a river which is near. The first bucket of water from the well or river which is near is symbol to be blessed with good luck for the coming year.

Visiting Relatives and Friends

From the second day of New Year, Tibetan people begin to visit their relatives and friends carrying their gifts with them.

When Tibetan people meet, they firstly say “zasidler” which means good luck and happiness to each other and then exchange hada  which is a white ceremonial scarf  to express their blessings as it is also the symbol of peace.

A simple ceremony is followed to welcome the guests’ visit on New Year on visiting a Tibetan Family.

The host greets his guests with a chemar which is a box tsampa flour in his hand, after that pinches a little roasted barley flour from the chemar with his thumb and finger and sprinkles it in the air this process is repeated three times after that puts some of the tsampa in his mouth.


In the Tibetan language the term ‘Losar’ means New Year which is combination or two terms ‘Lo’ means year and ‘Sar’ means new. Losar Festival is one of the most important celebration in the Tibetan calendar. It is the new year celebration.


On the day of Tibetan New Year Tibetans will change the old Fragrant Curtain with the new on the doors and windows. Every housewife will clean the family shrine and furniture, even whitewash their courtyard walls. They will also decorate the house with tsampa flour on the central wall of the cleaned kitchen or on the floor in front of the gate.

Fragrant Curtain also known as Xiangbu in Chinese , It is frequently seen in decorations hanging on the doors and windows of Tibetan buildings. It is made of colorful silk, with specific colors like white, red, blue, and yellow. The fragrant curtain is changed once a year for accepting blessings, peace and a new beginning.


There are numerous rituals and customs followed when celebrating the Tibetan New Year. Tibetan individuals get engrossed in improving their homes, removing the dirt and whitewashing them one month before the arrival of the New Year. The foremost enticing and finest decorations are placed all across the house and elaborate offerings are created called Tsamba.

The older prayer flags are replaced with recent colorful ones. New garments are created for each member of the family. Eight different auspicious symbols are sketched on the walls with white powder representing the various offerings created by the Gods to Gautama, once his enlightenment.

These symbols are the sunshade (royal dignity and protection from the warmth of the sun), 2 golden fish (good fortune), the univalve shell (sound of the Dharma reaching way and wide), the lotus blossom (true nature of beings which rise through cycle into the wonder and clarity of enlightenment), the banner of triumph (Buddha’s triumph over the demon Mara – passion, the concern of death, pride and lust), the jar (long life and prosperity), Dharma Wheel (one of the foremost common Buddhism symbols representing the octuple Path) and therefore the eternal knot (cause and result and therefore the union of compassion and wisdom).

On New Year’s Eve, the normal special noodle soup known as guthuk is ready. It includes dumplings that contain 9 different fortune symbols, like chili pepper, plant disease, wood, charcoal, sugar cube, wool string, paper, pebble, and raw bean. every image obtained by the person represents his fortune within the returning year. for instance, if an individual finds chili pepper in his dumpling, it signifies that he’s talkative. Similarly, wool denotes good-heartedness and charcoal denotes meanness. White things like sugar and cotton area unit thought-about to be sensible signs.


Guthuk is the only Tibetan food that is eaten only once a year as part of a ritual of dispelling any bad spirit of the old year and to make way for an auspicious new one. The base of the soup is made by noodle soup which is commonly called thukpa bhatuk, but at the beginning of the year, this daily favorite dish is changed into a special dish that is also a bit of a game.

Guthuk gets its name from the Tibetan word gu which means nine and thuk which generally means to noodle soups.. The gu part of the name also comes from the fact that the soup has at least nine ingredients. In this vegetarian version of guthuk, the nine main ingredients are mushrooms, celery, labu , peas, tomato, onion, ginger, garlic, and spinach. A guthuk would also include meat (yak or beef) and dried cheese.

External resource: Chinahighlight

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