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Losar Festival Ladakh

Losar Festival

The Ladakhi New Year has a unique tradition of being celebrated two months in advance, on the first day of the 11th month of the Tibetan calendar, though festivities begin on the 29th day of the 10th month. It is the most important socio-religious event of Ladakh. It is a social event of family and friends, feasting, new clothes and revelry. The Ladakhi Losar rituals and customs are a mix of Buddhist and pre-Buddhist Bon religions.

Preparation begins after harvest when people start stocking provision and brewing chang, a local barley beer. During the month-long festival, Gods, deities, ancestors and animals are fed.

On the day of Losar, the elders of the family are greeted with Khataks (ceremonial scarf) and presents, and the younger members visit relatives and friends. The celebrations are accompanied by putting images of the ibex and other auspicious symbols on the door and walls of kitchens. There is much feasting and socializing and even if any member of the family is away, a cup of tea is poured in their name.

The celebrations end in a procession of people chanting prayers and carrying flaming torches through the lanes of the town to chase away evil spirits that come to stay over the year as a result of our bad deeds. These torches are eventually thrown away in a gesture of bidding farewell to the old and welcoming the New Year.

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