Tibetan New Year Festival in Shigatse
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Tibetan New Year Festival in Shigatse

Update: Mar. 4th, 2013

Tibetan New Year Festival

In Shigatse Prefecture, Tsang, Tibetan New Year Festival is with some similarities and differences with Tibetan New Year Festival in Lhasa. Among these differences, the most obvious one is the difference of time. Due to the difference of climate and geography, the first day of Tibetan New Year Festival is the busiest time of spring plough in Shigatse Prefecture. At this time, Tibetans in Shigatse Prefecture are focusing on farming. It is accepted due to customs that Tibetan New Year Festival in Tsang was advanced one month. The Time of Tibetan New Year Festival was changed to December 1st in Tibetan Calendar when people are no so busy. Hence, Tibetan New Year Festival in Shigatse Prefecture is also named Farming New Year Festival.

Tibetan New Year Festival in Shigatse

Before Tibetan New Year Festival, Tibetans in Shigatse Prefecture will hold "Tuji", place "Qiema" and various "kasai". In the evening of 29th, Tibetans will eat "Gutu" and dispel evil spirits. Men in Shigatse Prefecture will wash hair on 29th because they think the family will be auspicious and luck in this way. On the contrary, women can not wash hair on 29th which is regarded as inauspicious. On 29th, there is traditional religious dance performed in Tashilhunpo Monastery. Monks will wear masks of Bodhisattva, guardian deity and human skeleton to show various images of Buddhas and tell Buddhist stories. The 30th is an auspicious day. Commonly, Tibetans will go to monasteries to worship and supplicate.

In the morning of December 1st in Tibetan Calendar, same with Lhasa Districts, Tibetans will eat "Guandan". After that, the hostess in the family will go out to carry back fresh water, and other family members go out to grab soil around the house and pick up cow dung and dog faeces. This means good luck and harvest in the coming year. Later, they will clean horns of ox and sheep and smear them with oil. In Tibetan New Year Festival, Tibetans will dress up themselves and their livestock. Different from in Lhasa, Tibetans in Tsang will not go out on this day. They will eat sheep head and other foods for festival in the house and spend the day happily.

Tibetan New Year Festival in Shigatse Prefecture will last for 15 days. From the second day of New Year, Tibetans will go out to visit friends and relatives. During Tibetan New Year Festival, on the third day of New Year or an auspicious day, young boys and girls in the family will climb up nearby mountain or the habitation of Gods to stick prayer flags to pray for good luck in the coming year. When stick prayer flags, they will chant "Jiji Suosuo, Lajieluo" to worship the Mountain God. After sticking prayer flags, Tibetans will gather together to dance happy "Guoxie".

In Shigatse Prefecture, on the 5th day of Tibetan New Year Festival, there is a grand ceremony of changing Prayer Flags in Tashilhunpo Monastery. On this day, almost all people will come to Tashilhunpo Monastery to help changing prayer flags. This day is extraordinary bustling.

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