Celebrating Lhosar


Though a small country, Nepal is home to people of varied culture, language and religion. We have so much of diversity within our own country to cherish with pride. This multiplicity gives an opportunity not only to understand and appreciate the differences but also cultivate reverence for each other’s linguistic, cultural and religious values. It seems people of all culture in Nepal have now realised the importance of preserving one’s culture and traditions.

Just a day before the country saw Shivaratri, the great Hindu festival, when people of all religion and culture including foreigners embraced it with joy. Today is Lhosar, the Tibetan New Year, and the cultural festival of the Mahayan community under the Buddhist religion. Celebrated at the time of the new moon in February or March for three days, this festival is observed in Nepal by the Tamang, Sherpa, Gurung, Magar, Thakali, Jirel, Nesyangba, Bhutia, Dura and Lepcha communities. However, the communities observe the festival on different dates and under different names like Tola Lhosar, Sonam Lhosar and Gyalpo Lhosar. Celebrated from ancient times, the festival is believed to have originated in China and came to Nepal via Tibet. Apart from Nepal, this festival is also observed in China, Macau, Singapore, Mongolia, Malaysia, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Bhutan, Laos, Myanmar and Japan.

The first day is a family affair when people perform puja at home; visit as many monasteries as possible, and receive blessings from Rimpoche. The remaining two days are for taking blessing from the elders, exchanging best wishes, wearing new clothes and eating delicious and variety of food. Khapse, a special roti is prepared for the festival and distributed to family and friends. Lhosar is welcomed with feasts, family visits and dancing. People put on their finest clothes and jewellery and exchange gifts. Buddhist monks offer prayers for good health and prosperity, and perform dances at the monasteries. Colorful prayer flags decorate streets and rooftops, which makes the festival all the more colourful.