Tibetan New Year Festival
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Tibetan New Year Festival

Update: Feb. 22nd, 2012

Tibetan New Year Festival

Tibetan New Year Festival starts from the first day of January and ends in the fifteenth day, lasting fifteen days.

Tibetan New Year Festival is the most grand and vehement traditional festival in Tibet. As all the people in Tibet believe in Buddhism, the festival is full of dense religious atmosphere. It is a national festival of gathering entertaining god and people, celebrating and praying together.

Preparation for New Year Festival

The preparation work of the New Year Festival starts from early of December in last year. Except the things for eating, drinking and playing, every family will make a "Qiema" which is a wooden box with colorful designs on it, and the fried barley and tsampa which is mixed by butter in the left and right side of the box, barley tassels and colorful butter flower on it. They will use water to soak a blow of barley seeds and make it grow out green crops in next Year. The crops of "Qiema" are sacrificed in the middle of religious desk to pray for harvest in the next year. When the festival comes, males are busying for clean the house, while females are busying for making "Kasai" which is a kind of butter wheaten food in ear shape, butterfly shape, rectangle shape, square shape, circle shape and other shapes, colored and covered by sugar. It is an artwork on the desk and delicacies to entertain customers. The kinds and color of "Kasai" is the symbol of how diligent, clever and kindhearted the hostess is. So it is outstanding in the festival.

The Day before New Year Festival

December 29th is New Year eve. In the day, Tibetans will change new cloth for the window and door; stick new sutra steamers on the roof; paint auspicious designs on the door, walls and kitchen to make festive atmosphere. In night, all the family members sit together to have "gutu" which is similar with reunion dinner in Han nationality. "Gutu" is trickled pastry with stone, wool, charcoal, coin and other things in it. People who eat these things must take out for it omens one's life and heart. Stone presents heartless; wool presents kind-hearted; charcoal represents vicious; while coin represents rich. So, all of them hotly discuss and laugh and prompt the happiness to climax. Then, the family use tsampa to make succubae and two bowls and pour the left bones and leavings of "gutu" into the bowls; ask a woman run out to throw the succubae and blows, a man following her with fired dried hay and say the words: succubae come out, succubae come out!" then, fire the succubae and leavings to ash. At the same time, children will set off firecrackers to drive off evil and welcome auspicious year.

First Day of New Year Festival

In the first day of New Year, the hostess will get up early. About 5 o'clock in the morning, she will prepare a pot of "qiangku" which is made up of tsampa, black sugar and barley wine and send it to every family member. The family members will not get up; they drink up the "qiangku" and sleep again. The hostess will sit next to the window to wait for the sun rise. When the sun just rises, she will come to river or lake to get the first bottle of water in new year. In legends, water at that time is the most purity and sweet. In the first day, people will close door to refuse customers. The streets are cheerless. People only celebrate festival and hold religious activities in house.

The Second Day of New Year Festival

People will come out to visit relations and friends in the second day of new year. Customer must say "luosha tashi delek" (happy new year). The host will hold "qiema" in two hands and stand at the door to welcome customers. From this day, folk artists will come out to play Tibetan Opera and "Zhega". There will hold mass singing and dancing activities and play Tibetan Opera in streets and villages.

The activities of visiting each other and playing shows will last three to five days; then, it will change to religious activities to entertain Buddhas. In Lhasa district, the main activity is attending prayer meeting festival; while in Qamdo and Qiangtang prairie, people start to worship Buddha to pray for good weather and peace in the new year.

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