Happy Losar! Tibetan New Year

Happy 2140, the year of the snake! Though Losar, like Chinese New Year, is generally an occasion for festivities, things for Tibetans are a little different this year. For the fifth year in a row, Lobsang Sangay, the exiled prime minister of Tibet, has asked Tibetans to tone down celebrations for the new year, in memory of those who have self-immolated in recent years (up to 99) in protest against the Chinese occupation of Tibet.

“No one feels like dancing and singing anymore,” says Kunga Tashi, the representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the Americas. In lieu of parties and feasting, he is appealing to Tibetans to mark the passage of the year with silence, candle-lighting and burning incense in memory of those who have lost their lives in protest.

Lha Gyal Lo. Bhod Gyal Lo. May all beings be happy and well, as we celebrate Tibetan New Year.

Here are some scenes from a Losar past in Labrang Monastery, Xiahe, Gansu Province.

©Michael Yamashita

Music lesson for Labrang’s monks using the traditional 13-foot horns.

©Michael Yamashita

Monks of all ages wait for morning prayers and the only meal of the day.

©Michael Yamashita

The trapa (novices), enter the monastery around the age of six and become gelong (monks) when they reach adulthood.

©Michael Yamashita

Tibetan monks in Labrang, Gansu, China.

©Michael Yamashita

The ciak is probably the most demanding form of pilgrimage in the world. Prostrating themselves fully, worshippers cover tens, sometimes hundreds, of miles. Labrang, China.

©Michael Yamashita

Tibetan worshippers crowd the entrance to the main temple.

©Michael Yamashita

In busy Xiahe, close to Labrang, teens in their finery prepare to celebrate Losar, the Buddhist New Year.

©Michael Yamashita

Outside the Labrang monastery, many food stands sell sunflower seed, soya beans and noodles.

©Michael Yamashita

Once the Tangka is unfurled, the colorful image of Buddha is admired by hundreds of people in the square at Labrang monastery, Gansu, China.


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4 Responses to Happy Losar! Tibetan New Year

  1. Sapna says:

    Awesome pics. Happy New Year!!

  2. Steven says:

    Life is hard in these areas… and you depict this in exceptional ways with your photographs. Thanks -and have a good new year!

  3. བཀྲ་ཤིས་བདེ་ལེགས།། – Tashi delek

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