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Losar: New Year in Tibet

“Asian new year” is the commonly used nomenclature for the lunar new year celebrated in Asia - the world’s biggest and most populated continent in the world.  
Yet, precisely because it is so vast, I think it gives good reason to consider the wide range of people within Asia who are currently celebrating the year of the Snake.

Some articles concerning the lunar new year mention that it is not only celebrated by the Chinese, but also by Koreans, the Mien (native to Indochina), Mongolians, and Vietnamese as well.  This includes this article from the Sacramento Bee, and this older one from the San Francisco Gate from 2004.  However, in neither the more current article nor the older article is the Tibetan lunar new year, known as Losar, mentioned.

As many may know, Tibet has been forcibly occupied by the Chinese for decades since the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1949.  Ever since this time, Tibetans have been struggling to preserve their heritage and regain their independence.  Even to speak about it is a source of controversy.  Whether or not this is the reason why Losar is less discussed in association with the Asian new year is questionable.

Whatever the reason may be, I still think it’s important to acknowledge the Tibetan New Year of Losar.  For the Tibetan people, it is not just about celebrating the new year, it is about celebrating a part of who they are and, also, who they have lost.  According to this blog from The Photo Society - a group of contributing photographers for National Geographic - celebrations in Tibet have been toned down during the past few years per the request of the exiled prime minister of Tibet, Lobsang Sangay.  According to Sangay, festivities should be made quieter out of respect for those who have lost their lives in protest against China.

Photo credit: Morguefile

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