Losar Celebration in Zürich, Switzerland

Affoltern, Zürich: Zurich Section of Switzerland Tibetan Community celebrated Losar, Tibetan ་New Year, in Zürich Affoltern on Saturday, 8 February 2020.

About 300 people participated in the celebration་ in a Great Spirit and enthusiasm. Khen Rinpoche Ven Thupten Legmen and Monks from Tibet Institute Rikon; Europe Chitue Samdho Jampa la; Ms. Thinley Choekyi of Tibet Bureau Geneva; and  Mr. Chokchampa Phuntsok, Vice President of Tibetan Community of Switzerland & Liechtenstein were the main guests.

The event began in the afternoon with the installation of the Portrait of His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the throne at the stage decorated in traditional setting providing a glimpse of typical Tibetan Losar altar. Tibetan National Anthem was sung followed by solcha and dresil, Tibetan tea and auspicious sweet rice, were served to the guests and the participants.

Mr. Tsering Norbu Wakar, President of Tibetan Community Zürich section, greeted and addressed the gatherings. He stated that the reason to celebrate Losar in advance is to bring the Tibetan community together to celebrate the Losar collectively in traditional way. As Tibetans in Zürich are living scattered, it is very important to organize such event well ahead. He said such event will generate awareness of Tibetan culture, religion and tradition among younger generations. He appealed the gatherings to take more interest in the work of Central Tibetan Administration, Dharamsala, and requested the people to take active part in community task, more importantly in its efforts to promote public events for the cause of Tibet.

Ms. Thinley Choekyi, representing Tibet Bureau Geneva, wished the gathering a happy and joyful Tibetan new year. She emphasized on the importance of education in Tibetan community and to use this education to serve the community.

Weekend Tibetan students started cultural performances with Losar songs and dances. Former Zürich weekend Tibetan Teacher Mr. Penpa Tsering performed Drekar, auspicious clown performance, followed by many other items. Dance and songs performed by the students were greatly appreciated by the audiences. The parents were found busy taking pictures of their children performing traditional dances in traditional attires on the stage.

A dinner with delicious menus was served to the participants. Cultural performances, bingo and other activities continued, and around 11 pm, the event closed with Gorshay, collective dances by all those present at the celebration with success.

Nyima Arya

Losar is the Tibetan word for New Year. Lo means year and sar means new. Losar is the most important holiday in Tibet. It is also celebrated with variations by the Yolmo, Sherpa, Tamang, Bhutia, in Bhutan and by the Tibetans living all over the world.

Losar celebrations apparently already existed in pre-Buddhist times. Preparatory exercises with text reading and meditation usually begin five days before. At Losar, the house gets a fresh coat of paint, the family gets fresh, new clothes, disputes are settled and debts are paid. One begins a new life, so to speak.

The date of the Tibetan New Year has changed again and again throughout history. It begins with the first month of spring, whereby the lunar months used here denote the time from new moon to new moon. To ensure that the year always begins at the beginning of spring, the Tibetan lunisolar calendar is adapted to the solar year, so some years last 13 months instead of 12. As in China, Mongolia and other countries of the cultural area, each year is consecutively assigned to one of 12 animal names of the East Asian Zodiac cycle, one of 5 elements and additionally - unlike in China - to the male or female energies. For example, on February 24, 2020, the Tibetan male 2147th year of the Metal-Mouse began on the day after the new moon.

The first day of the Losar festival is celebrated mainly in the family. First in the morning visiting Monasteries and often food is first presented to the Buddhas in a tsog puja. The second day is dedicated to religious things, large thankas (sacred cloth pictures) are displayed in the monasteries, Cham dances are admired and monastery ceremonies are attended. The third day is celebrated in public, usually in the open air, and chang (barley beer) is drunk. As an important Buddhist ritual of renewal, the ceremony can also last 15 days. On the second day of the New Year it is customary to visit each other.

Since the day of birth has no special meaning in this culture, Losar usually celebrates birthdays as well, making everyone a year older.

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