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.