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EXCLUSIVE: Tibetan New Year VS Spring Festival
By Li Nan | Web Exclusive

This year, Tibetan New Year fell on February 27. Known as Losar in the Tibetan language, the associated festival is the most important celebration for Tibetan people.

Like Spring Festival, Tibetan New Year is a major event, as families reunite and enjoy traditional festivities.

Like the Han Chinese, Tibetans go festival shopping and clean and decorate their homes in the lead up to Tibetan New Year.

To greet Spring Festival, people hang couplets on both sides of their front door as a blessing for good luck during the upcoming year.

Tibetans hang a white curtain above the entrance to their home as a blessing for the New Year.

On the eve of Spring Festival, most northern Chinese eat dumplings.

Tibetans eat balls of dough, also known as Guthuk. The dough balls have various fillings--coins, salt, wool, pepper, etc.--each of which has a different meaning. A ball stuffed with coins signifies a blessing for good fortune in the New Year.

Most southern Chinese pay tribute to their ancestors by placing symbolic offerings on a table and burning incense.

Similarly, Tibetans place offerings on a table, hang up prayer flags and burn cypress branches to pray for a better year.

On the second day of both festivals, people begin visiting friends and relatives.

On such visits during Spring Festival, seniors and children receive gifts of money in red envelopes, known as Hongbao in Chinese, from relatives and close friends.

During Losar, Tibetan hosts greet visitors with a Qiema—a colorful wooden box containing tsampa (a staple foodstuff of roasted flour) and fried barley and adorned with colorful flowers made of yak’s butter—and wish everything goes well for them in the coming year.

Happy Tibetan New Year! Tashi Delek!

(Reporting from Tibet) 

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