Do you remember running around your Grandmother in that cultural attire- Lungi and cholo?
Do you remember the joy and excitement of waiting for your beloved one to come home from a city during Lhosar?
Do you remember the street that used to be dark in other months at night, being brightened with lights and decorated with flowers during Lhosar with the joint effort of all villagers?
With the beginning of the month Magh, do you still remember how we used to wait for Lhosar to come? The happiness of wearing new clothes, seeing the face of Father after so long, visiting old Grandmother to put Tika and have her blessing, getting money after putting Tika which is only enough to buy candy: yet being happy as if we have gained all of the world’s richness and reunion of all the cousins after a year-long gap.
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Lhosar is formed by the combination of two words ‘Lho’-Year or Age and ‘Sar’-New. So, it means the celebration of the New Year. Years are associated with 12 different types of animals which is called Lho in Tamang language: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit (cat), Dragon, Snake, Sheep, Monkey, Bird(Rooster), Dog and Boar. This festival is celebrated during the month of Magh every year. It is the main festival of Buddhists following Buddhism.
There are three types of Lhosar based on which caste celebrate it and at what month or time, yet the purpose of the celebration is the same i.e to welcome an auspicious new year. They are:
- Tamu Lhosar- celebrated by the Gurung people.
- Sonam Lhosar- celebrated by Tamang people.
- Gyalpo Lhosar- celebrated by the Sherpa people.
Though all these Lhosar are celebrated at different dates and times, the theme and motive of the celebration remains the same i.e to welcome the grand new auspicious beginning and to bid farewell to the spent year with lots of good hope to future and wishes to do better for days to come, to forget and forgive past mistakes and let go of grudges and grievances that one have.
It is a festival that helps us to be more human, that let us free from our vengeance and encourages us to be better humans following the path of Buddha. It enlightens us to not deviate from the path of humanity making our soul pure as water, living a life without harming anyone.
Myths behind Sonam Lhosar
The word ‘Sonam’ is referred to the Tamang people. Tamang people celebrates Sonam Lhosar. The myth behind celebrating Sonam Lhosar is usually, Tamang people did farming for their livelihood in the past. They were poor farmers- to have a good harvest they started celebrating ‘Sonam Lhosar’ with a belief that celebrating it will help their crops to harvest. Due to their strong belief, this tradition has been passed from generation to generation being still in practice till to this date.
Who are Tamang People?
The Tamang people are ancient tribes of Nepal, believed to have come from Tibet around 3000 years ago and are the largest ethnic group. They are natives of the hilly region, especially Central Nepal. According to mythology, the word ‘Ta’ refers to ‘horse’ and ‘mang’ means riders, which makes them linked with some kind of horse-trading or business. In the past, farming was also their major occupation for livelihood having their pure belief in Buddhism.
How is Lhosar celebrated?
This festival is celebrated with family and relatives. Every relative or family member who lives far come to the main home to celebrate Lhosar. The oldest member of the family or the head of a family puts white tika (mixed with milk, curd, and rice) to every younger one and gives panchamrit as prasad. After putting tika, we should prostrate (dhognu) three times in front of God and to our elders.
We go to all our relative’s houses to put tika and have their blessing. Tamang people visit the stupa near them and they watch Lama guru performing traditional mask dance which is performed to drive away evil spirits. The houses and surroundings are cleaned to welcome god and goddess to home. And they eat together, they dance, they share their happiness together. In this way, Lhosar is celebrated.
Food during Lhosar
Lots of foods are prepared during Lhosar like Kheer, Sel-roti, varieties of aachar, chicken, mutton, various sweets and special dishes like Khepse-a deep-fried pastry are eaten during Lhosar.
Cultural programs and events are held during Lhosar. Females wear traditional Tamang dress- Lungi, cholo, yellow patuka, mala, ghalek and jewellery whereas males wear Tamang coat, half-coat, tyatung and Tamang topi to participate in cultural events and they exchange their greetings. Different Tamang Selo and Damphu are played in the cultural programs and cultural dances are performed. Everyone dances and forgets their sorrow on this day.
Lhosar is a very important festival for Buddhist people. It is one of their main festivals. On this day Bouddhanath stupa and Swyambhunath stupa is lit up and decorated. People visit them and kowtow in front of Gods. Buddhist people celebrate Lhosar with excitement. Lhosar helps for the reunion of family members and relatives. It brings all the family members and relatives together who have not been able to meet for a long time. It is the festival of reunion, a festival that brings happiness, a festival that teaches to follow the path of Lord Buddha.
We should always respect and celebrate all our culture and tradition. We should learn our mother tongue and wear our cultural dress. We shouldn’t neglect our culture which identifies us, which is passed down by our ancestors. If we neglect them, we will lose our identity, our ancestors will be forgotten, our culture and tradition will be forgotten. So, it is our responsibility to preserve our language, culture, tradition and passed it down to our future generation. And, we wish you Happy Sonam Lhosar 2022!!