If you have ever been bitten by the travel bug, you’d know that celebrating the New Year in the mountains is the ideal way to welcome it. But what would make it more perfect is to ditch the conventional New Year festivities and celebrate 2020 differently with Losar – The Tibetan New Year.
The Losar festival gets its name from two words, ‘Lo’ which means year and ‘Sar’ which means new. It is celebrated for 15 days, but the first 3 days of the festival are the most important. The local Tibetan population celebrates Losar with great pomp in the states of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh. The festival is celebrated with equal fervor in the neighboring countries of Bhutan, Nepal, and Pakistan.
Marking the beginning of spring, Losar welcomes the New Year with the hope that it will be filled with love, happiness, health, and prosperity. The festival usually falls in the month of January or February, and people prepare by cleaning their houses and presenting offerings. It is also celebrated with folk dances, passing of fire torches, prayers, and reunions among close friends-family.
The eight auspicious symbols associated with Losar are: i) the umbrella, ii) victory banner, iii) a pair of golden fish, iv) a right coiled white conch shell, v) lotus flower, vi) a vase filled with treasure, vii) the Dharma Wheel and the viii) Eternal Knot. These symbols are either drawn on the walls of the house with white powder or just hung as wall hangings.
The first day of the New Year is called Lama Losar, the second day is called King’s Losar and the third day is called Choe-Kyong Losar. During these days of festivities, elaborate dances and amusing performances are organized. Among the highlights of the Losar festival are the dance of the ibex deer, the staged dance-dramas and the battle between the king and his ministers. Every frame is picture-perfect during these festivities.
But the main attraction that will leave you spellbound is the Chham Dance, also known as the Dance of the Devil. This exquisite performance can be best described as ‘Out of the world’. Elaborate costumes, intricate masks, vibrant colors, animated movements combined with the backdrop of the mountains create an ambiance that is truly hypnotizing. The Chham Dance attracts huge numbers of spectators to the monasteries on the second day of the festival.
In India, one can witness the Losar festivities in full-swing in Tawang, Memba and Mechukha Valley in Arunachal Pradesh. The landscape of these mountainous locales only adds to the uniqueness of the festivities. Combine that with the warm community feeling of the people and voila, Losar is the best way to experience New Year. So ditch the normal and head to the mountains because Losar awaits you.
Here’s a list of must-dos when attending the Losar Festival:
- Try local delicacies: Make certain that you get a taste of Guthuk, a noodle and dumpling soup and Kapse, sweet and salty deep-fried pastries prepared during the Losar festival.
- Local beer: Keep yourself warm with the locally brewed barley beer called Chang/Phye Mar.
- Visit the monasteries: The monasteries are most lively during this time, so visit the ancient monasteries and learn about their culture and history.
- Don’t be a spectator: Participate in the festivities just like the locals would do. Life is better when you’re living it!
CELEBRATE LOSAR FESTIVAL in TAWANG, ARUNACHAL with AWARA FEET.
CELEBRATE LOSAR FESTIVAL in SIKKIM with AWARA FEET.
How to reach:
By Air: Arunachal Pradesh does not have its own airport. The nearest airport is in Lilabari, Assam. Flights come in regularly from Guwahati and Kolkata.
By Rail: There are trains that connect to Naharlagun. Tourists can then travel to their desired destination by road.
By Road: Roadways are the most accessible mode of transport in Arunachal Pradesh. One can easily hire cars from the neighboring towns like Guwahati, Jorhat, etc. to reach any part of Arunachal Pradesh.