Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Tibetan New Year: What To Do for Losar


People have many questions about how to observe the lunar new year. Be comforted by the knowledge that even in Asia, there is extensive regional variation. In Tibet, even neighboring provinces have differing traditions. Here are some suggestions from our friends at KTC Monastery in Upstate New York:

Traditionally, Tibetans see Losar as an opportunity to create auspicious conditions for the coming year and to remove hindrances and obstacles.

To symbolize making a fresh start and eliminating obstacles from the previous year, clean your house/center before Losar. The day before is the traditional day for pre-Losar cleaning. If you don’t have time to clean your whole house, just clean your altar and freshen all offerings.

To create auspicious connections with good health, long life, prosperity and abundance, offer fruit, cookies, candies, etc. on an attractive plate on your altar. It is also traditional to offer potted fresh green grass—this is sold in the grocery store as “kitty grass” (Note: usually this is barley sprouts). Grass symbolizes a long healthy life. Another traditional offering is tea and dresi (sweet rice). You can offer a cup of tea and bowl of dresi on your altar and then have some yourself.

On Losar day, if possible wear new clothing. Light the candles on your altar and offer a kata (white scarf). Recite any long life prayers for the lamas that you know, chant a sadhana such as White Mahakala, Tara, or Chenrezi if you know one, make aspiration prayers for the new year and dedicate the merit. (Note: you can search this blog to download our White Mahakala or Chenrezig resources).

Dresi Recipe:
Make white rice as usual, but a little dryer (use a little less water). When cooked add some butter and sugar (according to your taste) and small amount of saffron water (water that has had a few strands of saffron added to it until it is dark). Mix in golden raisins. You can soften the raisins ahead of time by soaking them in hot water for 15-20 minutes.

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