Sunday, February 14, 2010

Celebrate!

There's lots to celebrate today.

It is the Lunar New Year. Losar, the Tibetan New Year.

The Year of the Iron Tiger.

And, it's Valentine's Day.


Year of the Tiger

The Tibetan New Year Festival, Losar, can be traced back to the time before the introduction of Buddhism in the sixth century C.E. when the Bön religion was predominant.

Every winter, a spiritual ritual was performed in which incense was offered to calm the spirits, deities and protectors of the land. It was said to have been started when an old woman introduced the measuring of time based on the different phases of the moon.

This later evolved into an annual Buddhist festival. Since the 13th century, Losar has traditionally fallen on the first day of the first month of the calendar year, which is lunar-based—unlike our solar western calendar.

However, before the coming of a new year can be celebrated, unfinished business and unhappy memories must be dealt with. And so, on the 29th day [February 12] of the last month in the old year, there is a festival called Gutor, in which everyone whitewashes and cleans their houses. The last day of the old year is spent preparing for the new year. People go to monasteries to make offerings, and to participate in the ceremonies conducted during the day. Many rituals take place that are designed to chase away any evil spirits. One of these is a play in which the lamas perform masked dances to symbolize the triumph of good over evil. New Year's Eve is Lu Yugpa, an opportunity to banish evil spirits from the old year and clear the way for starting the new year right.

In modern times the preparations for Losar consist of collecting fresh roasted barley flour for phyemar (this symbolizes good wishes); lophud, a young wheat sprout that is the symbol of the birth of a new year; chang, a mild barley beer; sweet rice, tea, butter, fried biscuits, sweets, fruits and butter lamps.

A complete collection of these seasonal foods is always placed on the family's Buddhist altar as an offering. The entire neighborhood is cleaned and houses are freshly painted. New clothing is sewn and new curtains are put over the doors and windows. There is a saying in Tibet, "Losar is Lekar," meaning the new year is new work!

On the first day, at sunrise, the wife runs to collect the year's first bucket of water. She burns incense at the well or river, ties a white scarf around the tap or nearby tree and gives a food offering of the first portion of the special foods for the celebration to appease the nagas (subterranean serpents and spirits).

A special breakfast is prepared, everyone wears new clothes for the year, and a special Buddhist practice is performed at the family altar. When the formal family ceremony is over, the household members run to their neighbors' houses shouting Tashe Delek!—literally, "Good Fortune!" As on Christmas morning in the west, on the morning of Losar the children love to fill their pockets with sweets and show off their new outfits.

According to Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal, "Each new year is an echo of the changing cycles and Losar reminds us of the true nature of impermanence. Everything that is born is bound to die. The old year is gone and will never exist again. The new year gives us the opportunity to come together and celebrate; to notice and appreciate each moment, in the moment, and to realize the blessings of the teachings."

—excerpted from a story by Margret Dunham from the Padmasambhava Buddhist Center's website at www.padmasambhava.org .

***

How about Valentine's Day?!

This is my Valentine -- everyday of the year.


"I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me. I love you for the part of me that you bring out."
Elizabeth Barrett Browning




To My Valentine

Happy Valentine's Day!

May you be with those you love.


9 comments:

The Bodhi Chicklet said...

Happy V. Day Snap! And Tibetan and Chinese New Year too. I love the idea of white washing, very symbolic. Thanks for sharing that.

Anya said...

I feel really love here :-)))

Wishing you a Valentine's Day
filled with love
and the tender sound
of a voice that gives you comfort.....

Happy Valentine's Day :-)

((hugs))

Kareltje =^.^=
Anya :-)

Smalltown RN said...

What a lovely post...nad thanks for the history on the Tibetan New Years...I did not know what

Sarah said...

Oh what a wonderful post...something I did not know and will remember for next year!!
Funny we bought whitewash for our fence on the 12th..odd that no?
Happy New Year and Valentines to you my friend!! Love, Sarah

Barb said...

Celebrate Life and Love with Mr Dragon, Snap. Happy Day to you!

Carole said...

I hope you have a lovely day. :-)

dosfishes said...

You always find the most interesting little histories for us to share.

Handsome valentine you have there.

Happy Valentine's to both of you too!

kean said...

Good looking man you have there! Lucky you are...Happy love day!!!! wishing you all the love and sweetnesss!!!

Piecefulafternoon said...

Wonderful post - I knew nothing of these traditions, and enjoyed so much reading about them. Thank you.