Gyalpo Lhoar /Sherpa Lhosar /Sherpa New Year

Gyalpo Lhosar is the New Year of Sherpa community. Sherpa people celebrate New Year every year by exchanging their wishes. Gyalpo Lhosar is the celebration of Tibetan New Year.

The term Lhosar is derived from two words Lho, meaning year and Sar, the word for new. This lhosar is celebrated in Nepal mostly by Sherpa, Tamang, Bhutia and Yolmo. Different communities and different places have their own way of celebration. Basically Gyalpo Lhosar is celebrated for almost 2 weeks. The main celebrations take place during first three days. On the first day beverage called changkol is made from chhaang (a Tibetan cousin of beer). The second day is called Gyalpo Lhosar. This is the main New Year Day. Third day people get together and have feasts.

According to ancient lore, Lhosar was first celebrated when an old woman named Belma who introduced the measurement of time based on the phases of the moon. In ancient times, people went to the local spring to perform rituals of gratitude. Offerings were made to the Nagas, or water spirits, who activated the water element in the area, and smoke offerings were made to the local spirits associated with the natural world. These rituals took place for an entire month leading up to New Year’s Day.

This year (in 2018), this New Year’s happens in 16th February 2018 and Sherpa people of Nepal, Tibet and many neighboring Asian countries are celebrating Glyalbo Lhosar. This year, Lhosar celebration will till two weeks and revolve around food, family and festivities. Preparation of Lhosar begins by making special Sherpa snack – Khapse, a deep-fried pastry commonly eaten during the Lhosar, symbolizing the start of holiday celebrations.

Two days before the Lhosar, everyone in a Sherpa family gathers and enjoys a special soup called Gutung. Prepared with a combination of nine different kinds of beans, tradition states that each member in the family should have nine bowls of this soup. Gutung is also served with special type of dumpling, which contains different hidden objects used in the place of fillings. The hidden items are often strange, such as wood, salt, or even coal and are jokingly meant to relate to the character of the person they are chosen for.

The day before Lhosar, families gather to clean and decorate their homes. That same evening, once the clock strikes midnight, the traditional greeting, “Tashi Delek” is exchanged and friends and family stay up late to welcome each other to the New Year. The following morning many Sherpa change the Dhoja, or prayer flags, in their homes, symbolizing a fresh start to the year. The day continues with a special beverage called Changkol made from Chaang (a Tibetan version of beer). People celebrate by singing or dancing to traditional Sherpa songs, eating and drinking.

In the afternoon, people get together and continue the celebration. Many traditional ceremonial dances representing the struggle between demons and gods are performed at local Monasteries. Mantras are chanted and fire torches are passed among all the people in the crowd. Children often enjoy Lhosar the most as the environment is festive and full of delicious food, sweets and gifts.

In the evening, celebration winds down with dinner with family and loved ones, marking the beginning of New Year. Although the traditions of Lhosar have adapted to modern times and busier schedules, the joy, happiness and essence of Lhosar is still same.

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