Losar is one of the main festivals celebrated by the ethnic communities of Tamang, Sherpa, Gurung and Thakali. Losar means new year according to the unisolar calendar followed by the communities, it is also known as the Tibetan Calendar which follows the cycle of 12 years called Lohokor.
Losar is celebrated for 15 days during which the people visit the stupas and monasteries to offer pray, and receive blessings from monks for prosperity and wellbeing. The ethnic people adorn themselves their traditional dresses and rejoice the coming of the new year with their friends and family. Losar is a communal event where all members of the community gather in a venue and celebrate through numerous cultural dances, songs and prayer.
Losar is a single festival celebrated in different days according by different communities. Among the numerous Losar celebrations, the major ones are Tamu Losar celebrated by the Gurung community, Gyalpo Losar by the Sherpa Community and Sonam Losar celebrated by the Tamang community.
Tamu Losar:– Celebrated by the Gurungs community they are the indigenous people from Nepal and called Tamu, another name of Gurungs. They are native to the mountainous region but have settled all over Nepal. Gurungs are among the famous soldiers who share the title of “Gorkhas” who participated in the 1st and the 2nd World War.
Tamu Loshar falls in the month of December/January. The date signifies the end of the shorter days and the start of the longer days bringing warmness and charm. At the eve of the festival the lama, the traditional priests of the community called Lamas burn incense and offer prayers. Various delicacies such as Sel roti (Rice circle bread), Achar ( Pickle), Meat, homemade rice Beer and Wine are served. Members gather in the communal spaces and rejoice in the festivities and cultural processions marking the New Year. Sonam Losar:- Celebrated by the Tamangs community native to the central highlands of Nepal. Tamang’s have their dialects and unique culture that distinguishes them from other ethnic groups. The Tamang’s ethic profession during earlier times was horse trading. Sonam Loshar falls in the early January to mid February. Sonam Losar is all together celebrated for 15 days but the first three days are the major of the festival. They clean and decorate their homes to welcome the coming year and visit monasteries and stupas in their traditional costumes. Pork, duck, chicken and sweet desert along with rice beer and wine are served in communal and family gatherings.
Gyalpo Losar:- Celebrated by the Sherpa community native to the Himalayan region. Sherpas are renowned for having extreme endurance as they are born and raised in the one the high Himalayas. Their native profession is trade, husbandry and highland farming but in todays modern times. Most earn their living through transporting goods for trekkers and mountaineers who come to climb the high mountains. The trekkers and travelers have a deep respect for the Sherpa community as their work is involves high risk. They are world famous mountain climbers and the first one to scale Mount Everest in Nepal, the highest mountain in the world.
It is the celebration of Tibetan New Year falls that in the month of February in English Calendar. The community marks the beginning of the festivities by preparing their traditional dish Khapsee. The houses are cleaned, specially the kitchen has to be cleaned properly because it is place where the family prepares the food. Among the many dishes served one is a soup served with dumplings called Guthuk. The soup incorporates meat, rice, sweet potatoes, wheat, yak cheese, peas, green peppers, vermicelli and radishes. During the festival, the communities recall the struggle between the good and the evil in their ceremonial dance and as the Lama chants mantras and passes the fire torches through the crowds. People perform the traditional dance battle encounter between the king and the deer and amuse the spectators.
All three Losars have one commonality they are celebrated to not just mark the new year but to bring the community together. Especially in the modern times where many have migrated away from their native land and cultural values are being overrun by the modern routines. Festivals such as Losar help bring together the community and keep the traditional culture, lores and the sprit of a community alive.