Happy Losar 2019! This is the year of the Earth Pig and today, February 5, 2019, is the first day of celebration honoring Tibetan New Year.
It is traditional to prepare for this day by cleaning one’s home – especially the kitchen as you would be preparing delicious dishes for your family and friends to honor this ancient tradition. Fragrant flowers are used to decorate the home and well-wishes for health, happiness and abundant blessings abound.
Losar predates the arrival of Buddhism in Tibet and has its roots in a winter incense-burning custom of the Bon religion. During the reign of the ninth Tibetan king, Pude Gungyal, it is said that this custom merged with a harvest festival to form the annual Losar festival.
Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche (2002: p.xvii – Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche (2002). Healing with Form, Energy, and Light. Ithaca, New York: Snow Lion Publications. ISBN 1-55939-176-6) frames his experience of Tibetan cultural practice of Losar in relation to elemental celebrations and offerings to Nāga (Tibetan: Klu):
“During Losar, the Tibetan celebration of the new year, we did not drink champagne to celebrate. Instead, we went to the local spring to perform a ritual of gratitude. We made offerings to the nagas, the water spirits who activated the water element in the area. We made smoke offerings to the local spirits associated with the natural world around us. Beliefs and behaviors like ours evolved long ago and are often seen as primitive in the West. But they are not only projections of human fears onto the natural world, as some anthropologists and historians suggest. Our way of relating to the elements originated in the direct experiences by our sages and common people of the sacred nature of the external and internal elements. We call these elements earth, water, fire, air, and space.”