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Losar Festival in Nepal

Friday, September 15, 2023

Losar is one of the most important festivals in Nepal. Many different ethnic groups celebrate it, such as the Tamang, the Gurung, and the Sherpas. It is one of the biggest festivals in Nepal. The Losar Festival in Nepal has its own cultural and historical beliefs and values.

First, let me make something clear: Nepal has three different Losar festivals. We will talk in-depth about each festival and what makes it unique. The big similarity is that it is celebrated as the new year or the beginning of a new era for different cultural groups.

The festival is held every twelve years, which is why it is often called “Lohokor.” Each year is named by the first two letters of Lohokor, which are “Lo.” Different animals, such as a cat, mouse, dog, tiger, bird, horse, cow, monkey, garuda, serpent, sheep, and deer, represent each year. The cycle of animals is written on a cloth, which has been done since ancient times and is related to figuring out the year.

In the past, when there was no calendar, people used these Lhos to figure out how old they were. People used this concept to understand their ages and be able to celebrate the start of a new year. As soon as this started happening, it became a trend that had historical, cultural, and religious meanings.

During this festival, people dance their traditional dances and wish each other a Happy New Year. There are also parties and family gatherings. Folk stories and dances are performed in Khumbu, Helambu, and Boudhanath in Kathmandu.

Three different Losar festival in Nepal

Nepal has a lot of different cultures and celebrations. This is one of the main reasons why people love to visit Nepal and learn about its culture and values.

Many different groups of people celebrate three different kinds of Losar festival in Nepal. “New Year” in Tibetan is “Lhosar.” Lo has the meaning “year” or “age,” while Sar has the meaning “new” or “fresh.” In Tibet, Nepal, and Bhutan, this is a very important holiday.

They all have their own values, which we will be discussing further in our article.

Tamu Losar – the festival of Gurung Community

Gurung Losar Festival in Nepal

Tamu Losar in Nepal is one of the most important festivals that the Gurung people of Nepal celebrate. Gurungs gather in major cities to celebrate the Gurung New Year, Tamu Losar. They engage in traditions such as parades, feasts, and greetings. Most people who live near Mount Annapurna and Mount Dhaulagiri take part in the festival.

In order to celebrate Tamu Losar, people in the villages gather in their inner courtyards. Tamu Losar festival in Nepal take place in Poush 15 (Nepali Bikaram Sambat Calendar) at the Tundikhel Ground in Kathmandu, which is a vibrant area filled with colorful stalls and people streaming inside.

Time is divided by Gurung into cycles of 12 years (lohokor), and each of these cycles is given a unique name, which is referred to as a Barga (lho). The new “Lho” is likewise welcomed in by the arrival of Losar. There are 12 los in the oriental astrological system. These los are the garuda, serpent, horse, sheep, monkey, bird, dog, deer, mouse, cow, and tiger.

Gurungs celebrate it all over the world. On Tamu Losar, people wear clothes that were made just for the day and have decorations made of precious stones or gold. Men wear Bhangra, which looks like a white shirt and opens in the back like a bag. Women wear Kachhad, which looks like a miniskirt. There are also dresses called Ghalek and Gunyo-cholo.

On this day of Losar, special treats like Khapse (Tibetan bread), Sel roti, Achar (different kinds of pickles), Tongba (homemade beer), Wine, etc. are made. Gurung also have parties and feasts; they gather in one place to pray and worship, and then have more parties.

Every year, people in distinct parts of Nepal hold rallies to show their love for the Tamu Losar festival. On the other hand, Gurungs are known all over the world for being as brave as Gurkhas, the fighters.

The celebration is spent with families and relatives with good humor, good company, and interesting things. Gurung food is a main highlight for both small and large groups. People play both urban and ethnic music. It is a public holiday on Tamu Losar. Rodhi Ghar, Chudka, Sorathi, Ghantu, and Dhori are all things that the Gurung culture has given to Nepal.

Festival Tamu Losar
Celebrated by Gurung Culture
Celebration Date in Dec/Jan
Celebration Family gatherings, dance, feasts, and various cultural programs.

Sonam Losar – the festival of Tamang Community

Tamang losar

The Tamang people in the highlands of Nepal celebrate Sonam Losar as a festival of courage and victory. “Mang” means warriors, and “Ta” means horses. So, this festival is a way for the Tamang people to honor their ancient culture and traditions. Monasteries are painted and decorated in beautiful ways, and they are open to pilgrims.

The Tamang community celebrates Sonam Losar on the first full moon of the month, which usually happens between the beginning of the English calendar month of January and the middle of the Nepali calendar month of February.

During the Losar festival in Nepal, people usually clean, paint, and decorate their homes. Tamang Selo, a special dance, is done. On gatherings, feasts, and parties, where they wear traditional clothes and dance to the music of Damfu (a special musical instrument with a drum-type cover made of goat skin).

People who worship and do other rituals during Sonam Losar, like monks and older people, are blessed. Cultural processions are now a popular way to show how happy people are for Sonam Losar and other Losar.

On this day, men and women wear traditional, colorful clothes, dance to traditional music made by the damphu drum, and eat tasty foods from the area. If you like experiencing unique cultures, now is the best time to head to Nepal.

Visits to monasteries and stupas in traditional clothes, masked dances, and rituals to get rid of bad things are also part of the celebration.

Like Gurungs, Tamangs also have a way of counting the years that involves the symbols of 12 various animals. It begins with Rat and goes all the way to Boar. This has been a tradition for thousands of years and will continue to be so. People are keeping it alive and teaching their children and grandchildren how to follow it and keep it alive.

Festival Sonam Losar
Celebrated by Tamang Culture
Celebration Date In Jan/Feb
Celebration Family gatherings, dance, feasts, and various cultural programs.

Gyalpo Losar – the festival of the Sherpa Community

Sherpa Losar

The Sherpa people of Nepal are the ones who put up the largest celebration for Gyalpo Losar. The culture is heavily influenced by the people of Tibet, who inhabit the high Himalayas. This holiday is also celebrated by members of the Tamang, Butia, and Yolmo communities. Communities in various geographical locations celebrate the Gyalpo Losar in Nepal in various ways.

Decorating and painting houses, gumbas, and monasteries, as well as making Khapse, are the first steps in getting ready for the festival. Since these communities are close to Tibet, the Tibetan way of life, culture, and traditions have a big impact on them. There are a lot of similarities between the two.

Gyalpo Losar festival in Nepal is a holiday that lasts nearly two weeks, but the first three days are the most important. On the first day, Changkol, a special drink made from Chyang, the local beer in Tibet, is made. On the second day, Gyalpo Losar is celebrated in a big way, and the main New Year’s Day is on the third day.

On the special day of Gyalpo Losar, people in the Sherpa communities make and share feasts with many different kinds of food. Gunthunk is a tasty soup made with rice, meat, yak cheese, wheat, potatoes, radishes, and green peppers. The Lakhe dance shows a fight between the King and a deer.

No matter what style or way of celebrating Losar is used, the end result is the same: prayers for the joy of family and friends, then the whole community, the whole country, and finally the whole world. Lamas, who are priests, read the holy prayers from prayer books as they worship a statue of Lord Buddha.

People burn scented sticks and make delicious treats in different ways. Family, friends, and other close people get together once a year to celebrate Losar. People are forgetting about the ancient celebrations because of modernization and the influence of western cultures, but many young and old people are still doing their best to keep the originality of the Losar holiday. “Tashi Delek” is how people say hello and welcome each other.

Festival Gyalpo Losar
Celebrated by Sherpa Culture
Celebration Date in Feb/Mar
Celebration Family gatherings, dances, feasts, and various cultural programs.

Losar Festival in Nepal Dates for 2024 in Nepal

Losar Festival in Nepal Dates
Tamu Losar (Gurung Losar) 30 December 2024
Sonam Losar (Tamang Losar) 10 February 2024
Gyalpo Losar (Tibetan Losar) 11 March 2024

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Who celebrates the Losar festival in Nepal?

The Losar festival in Nepal is primarily observed by Nepalese living in the country’s east and highlands. Losar is one of the most important festivals for the Gurung, Sherpa, and Lama groups.

What is Khapse?

The khapse is a deep-fried Tibetan cookie that is mildly sweetened. It is typically served during Losar, but it may also be provided on other special occasions, like Tibetan weddings.

How does the Losar Festival in Nepal differ from the Chinese New Year?

Tibetans celebrate Losar in a big way. Tibetans and Mongols have used the Uyghur calendar for a very long time. This calendar puts the Losar and the Chinese New Year at the same time.

If you want to know more about the other festivals in Nepal, read Maha Shivaratri Festival In Nepal and other blogs uploaded on the website.