It’s all very festive this Losar, according to this picture from China Daily.
Today is Losar, or the Tibetan New Year, the single most important day in the Tibetan calendar. But for many living in the province, now closed off to the outside world, as well as other Tibetans around the world, there will be no singing and dancing this year.
Tension in the province is high as Chen Quanguo, Tibet’s Communist Party chief has stepped up security throughout the region, with more armed police and paramilitary officers now manning the streets.
In response to the spate of self-immolations by Tibetans — now numbering 24 according to one estimate — Lobsang Sangay, the Kalon Tripa of the Tibetan government-in-exile, called upon Tibetans to halt Losar celebrations this year.
Instead of outward celebrations, Tibetans should go to the monasteries, “making offerings and lighting butter lamps for all those who have sacrificed and suffered under the repressive policies of Chinese government,” he said, in a statement posted on the website of the Tibetan government-in-exile.
In the last two weeks alone, three Tibetan teenagers have set themselves on fire, and died.
Yet, apart from Xinhua News Agency’s rare (and terse) confirmation of the self-immolation of 19-year-old Tibetan nun Tenzin Choezin in Aba, Sichuan Province, Chinese state media have remained silent on the many other cases.
They have instead painted an extraordinarily cheerful picture of Losar celebrations in the region.
Here are a few selected excerpts…
From China Daily:
More than 5,000 people, organized by Lhasa’s bureau of culture, rehearsed traditional songs and dances on Potala Square on Monday. The artists, bathed in golden sunshine and dressed in fine clothes, will perform in residential communities, villages and pastoral areas during the festival.
And markets in the city are as heated as the rehearsal site.
Kromziggang, located at the south of East Beijing Road, is the largest market in Lhasa.
Washed into the market by a stream of customers, you will be greeted with all kinds of splendid colors – flowers in dark red, barley seedlings in green, wheat ears dyed yellow, green and blue, as well as sutra streamers in sky blue, white, red, gold and green.
Norbu usually sells vegetables in the market, but with Tibetan New Year coming, he has begun to sell dyed wheat ears.
He said selling wheat ears before the festival is a traditional business for his family.
“Every August during the harvest, we preserve the wheat ears with plump grains and straight straw for the festival. Before New Year, we dye them in dark red, golden yellow and green and bring them to the market.”
Walking through the Kromziggang market and turning south, you will arrive at Bakuo Street where the shops seem more crowded. Customers gather in the shops selling Thangka (the Tibetan art of scroll painting), carpets, Tibetan clothes and religious articles.
Standing in his shop, Toblag was busy receiving customers and had little time to answer questions from a China Daily reporter. The streamers he sold, with sutra and Buddha images on them, ranged from several meters to more than 100 meters long. In just a couple of minutes, Toblag sold 500 yuan ($80) of sutra streamers.
Lhapa, a young resident of Dagze county on the outskirts of the Tibetan autonomous region’s capital of Lhasa, returned home late Monday afternoon for a feast with his family. The college-educated Lhapa has a white-collar job in downtown Lhasa, returning home to see his parents only during holidays.
His mother has prepared a rich variety of Tibetan food, including highland barley liquor and “guthuk,” a traditional Tibetan snack similar to a dumpling with a meaty filling.
Guthuk are sometimes filled with a variety of “surprises,” including charcoal, wool or chilis, representing personal qualities or features. Someone who receives a guthuk filled with wool is described as being “good-natured,” while coins or wheat stand for good fortune.
Lhapa’s whole family roared with laughter when his younger sister Nyima spat out a piece of charcoal from one of her dumplings, although he stopped laughing when his mother remove a slip of paper from one of hers.
“Paper represents a busy life with no time to relax,” he said. “Mom is indeed a hard-working person. Sometimes she gets too exhausted.”
Cleaning up for a better Tibetan year – Yixidajie, a 70 year old farmer, has been living in this small village with his family for 70 years.
As the Tibetan New Year is approaching, he and his family are now busy with the house cleaning and decoration.
Yixidajie said,”It is very important to clean the house today. We want to welcome the new year in a clean and tidy home. That can bring us good luck in the new year!”
The kitchen is the first place that must be cleaned since it is where the family’s food is prepared. Courtyard also needs to be clean and tidy. Cleaning is not easy, but everyone seems to have seeked joy out of the hard work.
Zhasang said, “we have a lot of work to do for the house cleaning. But still i am happy to do it since it is for the new year.”
Besides cleaning, the finest decoration must be put on. The house is thoroughly painted new. Couplets and new curtains are purchased or sewn and put up on the doors and windows. A home decorated with religious offerings is the best place to welcome the New Year in the world.