Day 4 Taboos in Tibetan New Year

15 Days of Prayer for


during the Tibetan New Year

There are countless taboos for

Tibetans’ living habits. Taboos are

particularly significant in the New

Year, a festival which emphasises

auspicious meanings. Tibetans, ranging

from the elderly to children, have

to speak and act carefully so as not to

irritate or annoy relatives and friends,

hence everyone can celebrate the

festival delightedly and peacefully.

Bumo has been a very obedient girl

since she was young. She strictly follows

her parents’ teaching and commands,

including the traditional living

taboos. During the New Year, she is

especially cautious.

The penultimate day of every year

is the day for all families to have a

thorough house clean-up. They sweep

every place, ranging from scripture

hall and kitchen to children’s bedrooms

and pens for livestock. Bumo

diligently helps her mother to do all

sorts of cleaning; meanwhile, she

collects all the garbage and dumps it

together with portraits of evil beings,

which her father has already

prepared, at the auspicious corner of

the village at night. According to her

father, the best location is the junction

of three streets.

After she disposes of the garbage, she

goes home and gets ready for a bath.

Tibetans are used to taking a bath before

the New Year, which symbolizes

washing away all the bad luck. Yet,

there are taboos for picking a right

date for bathing. Men bathe on the

New Year’s Eve whereas women have

to bathe on the day before New Year’s

Eve or before; otherwise it is unlucky.

On the first morning

of the New

Year, Bumo’s

mother gets

many different

kinds of food ready

for Bumo and other family members

to eat. The more they eat, the

better it is for them as this is the only

day of a year, which means that the

whole family will be satiated throughout

the whole year without worrying

about a lack of food.

In addition, Bumo definitely does not

do any cleaning such as sweeping

floors and washing clothes on this day.

There are several reasons for not doing

so. First, Tibetans think that this

will sweep or wash away all the good

luck. In addition, sweeping on the first

day of the New Year represents that

their house will be dirty every day and

it will always need a lot of cleaning.

On the first day of the New Year,

parents cannot reprove their children

because of the effect on their

fortune. So not matter how mischievous

Bumo’s siblings are, her parents

can only remind them gently but not

severely scold them. Moreover, the

elder brother who usually speaks foul

language also tries to control himself

so as to avoid bad luck. What’s more

interesting is that neighbours cannot

throw yak dung outside as it will mean

that they will suffer great loss in terms

of horses, yaks and sheep, as well as

harvests of crops. In other words, they

can never be rich.

Bumo has also heard from her father

that Tibetans never borrow from

others, especially money, in the New

Year or he will end up needing to

borrow a lot and having lots of debt

and misfortune. A Tibetan proverb

says: “Whoever is rich owes no debts”.

Therefore, Bumo returns all the borrowed

books to her classmates a few

days in advance, even though she has

not yet finished reading those books.

Only when Tibetans return all the

borrowed items can they enjoy the

New Year without cares.

Pray that:

• The Tibetans can enjoy the

New Year freely and peacefully.

• The power of the evil spirits

behind these taboos will be

broken over the Tibetans.

• The Tibetan believers are

brave enough to say ‘NO’ to

these taboos.

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