Everything You Need To Know About Losar Festival

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Losar Festival is a traditional Tibetan New Year festival celebrated in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, India, as well as in other Tibetan communities around the world. In Sikkim, the festival is celebrated with great zeal and enthusiasm, with various cultural and religious activities being organized to mark the occasion.

The exact date of the Losar festival in Sikkim may vary from year to year, depending on the Tibetan lunar calendar. However, the festival is generally celebrated in February or March and is an important event in the cultural and religious calendar of the state.

The religious occasion features traditional rituals symbolizing the conflict between good and evil. “Losar” translates to “New Year” in Tibetan, where “Lo” means year and “Sar” means new. It starts on the new moon day, marking the first day of the first month on the Tibetan calendar, and is referred to as “Gyalpo Losar” in Tibetan, meaning “King’s New Year”.
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It’s that time of year when joy and merriment fill homes and public spaces. Colorful decorations and lights enhance the festive mood. Losar is a time for feasting and socializing, where families and friends come together to enjoy food and drinks. It’s an opportunity to experience the best of Tibetan cuisine and culture. Offerings are made to the gods and prayers are said to seek blessings and peace for the coming year. Traditional Tibetan music and dance are integral to the celebration, with artists and musicians performing for the community.
On the evening of Losar, devotees conduct a procession known as Metho. They carry torches lit with fire, leading the procession through the streets and markets while chanting sacred slogans. The parade is believed to purify the area of evil spirits, and at its conclusion, the torches are symbolically thrown out of the region to dispel the evil of the past year and welcome the new one.
The Losar Festival in Sikkim marks the end of the harvest season and the tenth month of the Tibetan year. Locals start the celebration by cleaning their homes, discarding old items, and decorating their houses. The centerpiece of the celebration is locals reciting prayers at monasteries in Sikkim.
Night view of Ngesang Dhongag Jangchub Dargyeling Monastery e1675266927504
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The Monpa tribe in Arunachal Pradesh celebrates the Losar festival in Tawang for three days. The festival features music, folk, and traditional dances and is a must-see event for its unique and entertaining display of activities.

Preparing Guthuk is an interesting part of the Losar Festival. It is a traditional noodle soup that is a variation of the well-known Tibetan dish, Thukpa Bhatuk. On the eve of Losar, Thukpa Bhatuk is transformed into Guthuk, which is made with nine ingredients such as ginger, beef, mutton, dried cheese, spinach, beef stock, tomatoes, radish, onions, peas, and garlic.

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Each bowl of Guthuk includes nine balls of barley flour dough, each with a small item inside that carries a special meaning to predict the eater’s New Year’s fortune. These items can range from raw beans, wool, wood, pebbles, chili, charcoal, folded paper, and more. When consumed on Losar, Guthuk symbolizes the banishment of negativity from the previous year and the embrace of positivity in the new one.

The Losar Festival is a significant cultural and spiritual event among the Tibetan communities of Sikkim and Arunachal and various other parts of India, bringing people together to celebrate their rich heritage and pay homage to their gods and goddesses. During the festival, Lama Jogis visit each household to offer their wishes for prosperity.

Losar 2023 will begin on Tuesday, February 21.

Visiting Arunachal Pradesh would require Inner Line Permits (ILPs) while foreigners including Overseas Citizens of India require Protected Area Permits (PAPs) for Sikkim. 

(More details on how to obtain an Inner Liner Permit has been discussed in our earlier article.)

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