Tibetans and Losar this year

It is 21 days to go before Losar. This year it falls on February 25 in the Gregorian calendar. As I write this, there is an ongoing movement within the Tibetan community about observing this year’s Losar differently as a mark of mourning and in rememberence of the very many people affected by the Chinese onslaught on Tibetans last year. Irrespective of where one stands on the debate, I can feel the social movement gaining ground in mobilizing the attention and energy of Tibetans throughout the world.

In the Washington, D.C. area the movement began several months back when people began to talk about reports from Tibet about some Tibetans there not wishing to celebrate Losar this year. This decision has a spiritual basis for in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition a family observes the completion of one year of the passing away of a near and dear one. If Losar falls during this period then the family does not indulge in gaeity or other form of celebrations. This time, the Tibetans are considering themselves as a broader family whose near and dear ones died during the Chinese authorities onslaught on Tibetans last year. Personally, I feel the efforts towards a subdued Losar observance very moving. This is that kind of a social movement that can be observed at the individual, family and the group level. No matter in what form it is done, the outcome is that it will bring the Tibetan people closer. However, given that it also impacts the Tibetans in Tibet, who are the majority, I feel the Tibetan community in the rest of the world need to be careful in our projection of the issue and the way it is represented. This also includes the formulation used by people to identify their movement. For example, I have seen some references to a “boycott” of Losar. This is wrong. No one is boycotting Losar, nor is there a need to do so. What the Tibetan people is and should be doing is observing the day of Losar as a day of prayer and remembrance.

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4 thoughts on “Tibetans and Losar this year

  1. Dechen

    Interesting, the distinction between “boycotted” and a “subdued” Losar. I agree with you.

    On facebook, I got an invite to “Boycott Losar”. Until then I didnt know there was anything like this brewing in the community.

    My two bit? I had a massive argument with family on this. The general opinion was that since “boycotting” or “subdueing” Losar celebrations were obviously a pain in PRC’s neck, we ought to stand by decisions boycott/subdue the celebrations even more!

    That sounds logical, but also falls in to the realm of fighting symbolism with sybolism and not getting anywhere/anything. Maybe that’s how we have decided to “fight”? But I dont see the point apart from solidarity..mebbe that’s the point? Like Gandhi’s “boycott” of British made goods. But that had logic in the sense that British manufactured goods were destroying India’s (pre independence) economy. Why cant we ban Chinese goods instead and get our folks in settlements to start factories to produce “Made in Tibet” stuff.

  2. Regardless of different views on whether to celebrate Losar or not, our final goal should be unshaken: the Tibetan freedom. If you want to celebrate Losar and send a meaningful message, then this is right and if you don’t want to celebrate Losar and again send a meaningful message, that too is right. Either way, we Tibetans must not forget that any actions or campaigns that we carry out, we should be united and not divided and if there is any actions for Tibet that divides us, we must understand that we are failing in achieving our goal of freedom. So, Losar or No Losar, there shouldn’t be any rift between us Tibetans.
    Personally, I am not celebrating Losar-2136 and this is my way of considering all the Tibetans who died for Tibet in the uprisings last year as my own family members and pay homage to them.
    Bhod Gyalo

  3. Tsamchoe Dolma

    Tashi Delek:)

    I agree with your article on a “subdued” losar celebration. I recently heard stories about TWA in nepal going door to door asking for families to not celebrate losar and that everyone be wearing black chupa. Tibetan government in exile is a democratic society and the choice, “whether to or Not to celebrate losar”should be a personal choice and discretion not something that needs to be imposed. There are more important and pressing issue towards Tibetan freedom movement that Tibetans should be focusing on and not “celebration of losar”. The tibetan people who gave up their lives deserve to be remembered each day. I hear of parties in NY almost every week and recently there was a valentines day party in Toronto, Canada…are these celebrations justified. I cite these examples to put my point across that celebration of losar should be a personal choice, as for myself I will not be celebrating losar as Im going to be working. yes, although Id defintely be heading over to NY that weekend to spend some quality time with my family as I see losar (New year) as a time to reflect upon the bygones and look forward to a new future, a new beginning. best wishes to all

  4. jigme

    the idea of a no losar or boycott losar is to show solidarity with our compatriots in tibet from where this movement started in the first place. I personally this is a wave of new movements with which we can challenge chinese authority. We will not be able to boycott chinese goods. Its just not feasible. Given the fact that that so many hardships have been faced by our compatriots there and doing so still isnt it a small sacrifice not to celebrate losar since we are not staring down the barrel of a gun everytime we protest in exile.However if someone is dying to celebrate he shouldn,t be stopped from doing so. Lets not do what the chinese specialise in that is stuffing things down peoples throats. So, losar or no losar ? Not for me-at least.

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