Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Happy Tibetan New Year

The word Losar is a Tibetan word for New Year. LO means year and SAR means new. Tibetans celebrate their New Year as Losar. The Tibetan New Year is commemorated on the first day of the first month of the Tibetan lunar calendar, which usually falls in the month of January or February or even in March.

The celebration of Losar can be traced back to the pre-Buddhist period in Tibet. During the period when Tibetans practiced the Bon religion, every winter a spiritual ceremony was held, in which people offered large quantities of incense to appease the local spirits, deities and protectors. The Losar is celebrated even now with lots of fervor among the Tibetan Bon Practitioners here in Exile too. This religious festival later evolved into an annual Buddhist festival which is believed to have originated during the reign of Pude Gungyal, the ninth King of Tibet. The festival is said to have begun when an old woman named Belma introduced the measurement of time based on the phases of the moon. This festival took place during the flowering of the apricot trees of the Lhokha Yarla Shampo region in autumn, and it may have been the first celebration of what has become the traditional farmers' festival. It was during this period that the arts of cultivation, irrigation, refining iron from ore and building bridges were first introduced in Tibet. The ceremonies which were instituted to celebrate these new capabilities can be recognized as precursors of the Losar festival. Later when the rudiments of the science of astrology, based on the five elements, were introduced in Tibet, this farmer's festival became what we now call the Losar or New Year's festival.

A month before the festival arrives, people get engrossed in cleaning their home thoroughly removing every bit of dirt and whitewashing them new. The most attractive and finest decorations are put all across the house and elaborate offerings are made on the family alter. The older prayer flags are replaced with fresh colorful ones. New clothes are made for every member of the family. Eight different auspicious symbols are displayed wherever possible, representing the different offerings made by the Gods to the Buddha, after his enlightenment.
Losar, the Tibetan New Year, is a three-day festival that combines sacred and secular practices of prayers, ceremonies, hanging prayer flags, sacred and folk dancing and partying. A month in advance, homes are painted, new clothes are stitched, debts and quarrels are resolved, good food is cooked and intoxicants are drunk in the run-up to New Year's Day. Homes are decorated with flour paintings of the sun and moon, and small lamps are illuminated in the houses at night. Moreover, the eight auspicious symbols are drawn on the walls using white powder although presently in exile the drawing of the eight auspicious symbols are not done since it requires an professional artist to draw them, however the walls of the home would be having the symbols either as wall hangings or on their doorway curtain or on their family alter. In the monasteries, the monks honor the protector deities with devotional rituals. The first few days of festivities are exclusively family affairs, as are the first days of the New Year. Later, the festivities roll out onto the streets and others.

Thanks to Tibet Homestay for making the above information available on their website.
Read more here

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

About Everyday Enlightenment

We all know the expression: 'being in the present moment' but how often do we manage to put it into practice?

This blog is a place for gathering and sharing different methods, tips and tricks for finding the way in to present awareness.


Many of us already use meditation, dance, performance, walking, swimming, fishing, surfing, skiing or haiku writing to get there.


Here we explore all these methods and more.


Please feel free to contribute your own experiences and techniques in our comments section below.

“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.”
Thích Nhất Hạnh