Day 1 Tashideleh! 15 Days of Prayer for Tibetans during the Tibetan New Year Tashideleh!” “ Tashideleh!” Today you can hear “Tashideleh” in every region and in every street in Tibetan areas. “Tashideleh” means good luck. Tibetan New Year is really the most important festival for Tibetan people. The word ‘Losar’ is a Tibetan word for New Year. ‘LO’ means year and ‘SAR’ means new. The celebration of Losar can be traced back to the pre-Buddhist period in Tibet. During the period when Tibetans practised the Bon religion, every winter a spiritual ceremony in which people offered large quantities of incense to appease the local spirits, deities and protectors was held. This religious festival later evolved into an annual Buddhist festival which is believed to have originated during the reign of Pude Gungyal, the ninth King of Tibet. Long history comes with customs. When Losar comes and the first rooster crows, housewife Drolma brings her buckets, Tibetan wine, “grain hopper” and spices, and rushes to be the first to fetch water which is believed to bring blessings to her. Unfortunately, before she arrives at the well, she already sees her neighbor fetching water. It means this year she could not be the first. Drolma, however, still lights a fire and offers tea and water to worship the Water God. Then she takes the “new water” and goes home without turning back. It is said that the water will no longer bring them any blessing if one turns back. When Drolma returns home, she fills the god’s cup with the “new water” and pours the rest into a water jar. She also needs some of the water to prepare congee with highland barley wine to show that this is the beginning of the new year. In Tibet today, however, it is not common to see women like Drolma and her neighbors still fetching water following the traditional customs. Nowadays, Tibetan houses have a tap water supply. “Creative” housewives sacrifice a “kada” (a white scarf with the meaning of blessing) to the tap, start smoke with mulberry leaves, pray sincerely and then turn on the water tap. The water that comes out is also called “new water” with blessings. Pray that: • The Tibetans will enjoy a happy new year. • Jesus will be the Lord of the Tibetan New Year. • Christian friends will have opportunities to celebrate with Tibetans, and gain insight into the culture and discover new bridges to sharing the good news.
Day 2 The Spiritual Dance for the New Year 15 Days of Prayer for Tibetans during the Tibetan New Year Today Dorjie was very excited. He was going to the monastery with his family. They were not necessarily going to appease any goddess, but rather, to watch the spiritual dance. In Tibet, Losar is not only a cultural celebration. You can find thousands of related activities or ceremonies throughout the process. The spiritual dance is among them. During the Losar celebration, each monastery will arrange their spiritual dance, a religious ceremonial dance. It can be in the form of solo, dual, or even group dance. All dancers are monks, strictly chosen and trained. When they are dancing, they wear masks and long gowns with colored ribbons, accompanied by musical instruments such as cymbals, battlehorns, and reeded horns. Today the spiritual dance was followed by the blowing of a conch horn. Dorjie and his family were waiting quietly for the monks who would be wearing masks of protecting deities, monsters Pray that: • The Tibetans will be set free from the demons and those spiritual rituals. • The Tibetans will no longer be cheated by the lies from the monks. • The Tibetans will know Jesus is the only one worthy of worship. and demons to enter the dancing avenue. Every action of the monks had its religious meaning. Dorjie concentrated to watch the dance. He knew that the spiritual dance was a religious activity that was said to expel demons, take away bad luck and bring them blessings. Such an auspicious activity was something not to be missed during this big festival of the year. During the dancing ceremony, the audience paid close attention. Dorjie’s mother kept mumbling and Dorjie knew that his mother was chanting. A moment later, Dorjie saw many neighbors and relatives bow down on their knees, with their foreheads touching the ground in worship. The worshipers’ up and down movements and the monks’ dancing seemed to form a perfect picture of harmony. After several rounds of solo and dual dances, the crowded group dance began, and Dorjie knew that today’s spiritual dance was coming to an end. Although he had already stood there to watch for nearly two hours, Dorjie was not tired. On the contrary, he felt relieved, joyful and blessed. He believed that the religious dance was not only a ceremony that could expel demons, but also, it could clean one’s soul. He believed that this year would be better than the previous.