Though there is many festivals around the year, LOSAR – LO is year, SAR is new and therefore LOSAR means new year in Tibetan – is the occasion that people look forward to, the most. It is the time when the Tibetans gather together with family, friends and relatives for fifteen days. For the first three days, people usually stay at home or with their families. The first activity that a family do together is to going to the temples to receive blessings. They bring presents to offer to the temples and also bring available cashes to give to the people on the streets. At home, the celebration entails eating sumptuous foods, wearing new dresses, bestowing kids with lots of presents, and songs and dances around the clock. Then after the third day, it is the time for visiting and inviting friends and relatives for lunch or dinner. As a kid, I used to love visiting our relatives during Losar. It is like the night of Halloween here in the West. Here the kids go for a “Trick-or-Treat” and receive bucket full of candies. Back in Tibet, it is during Losar when the children are the richest. They get their pockets filled with candies and there is constant inflow of cash from the adult relatives. For the children, it is the best time of the year for sure.
Tibetan Children in their new dresses during Losar
Now as an adult, I am not as excited as I used to be when the Losar comes. But I can image how it must be for the little kids, especially my own nieces and nephews. Few days back, I called home to see how things were. My father gave me an anecdote on what my niece, who is eight, said to him the day before. She came home running. She was at the market place where we own a small shop. There she heard people talking about not celebrating Losar for this year. She was very upset and she wanted to confirm it with my father. She asked him if what she heard was true. He had no option, but to tell her, “Since you have been a very good girl, we sure are having a good Losar at home.”
What I heard from my father made me imagine how hard it must be for the adults to explain to the little ones why the Tibetans have decided not to celebrate Losar this year.
Since 2009, there have been more than twenty people in Tibet who set themselves alive to protest against the Chinese rule. Therefore as a symbol of national solidarity and also mourning the lost lives, the Tibetans have widely agreed not to celebrate the Losar 2012 in a grand fashion.
But since it is very dangerous to talk openly about these issues inside Tibet, I wonder what kind of answers the Tibetan parents give to their children when they ask the same question, that my niece asked my father. I guess the common tactic is circumventing the question with a kiss on the cheek or a pat on the shoulder.