Greetings and Blessings for Losar, a day for celebration in every auspicious and joyous way. How will you celebrate? My intention is to devote this week, beginning with the New Moon, to loving kindness and service. For those living in Maui, there is a celebration at the Maui Dharma Center in Paia, Sunday, February 26, beginning at 10 am, with prayers, light offerings, raising of prayer flags and a potluck. All are welcome to attend, and wherever you live, you can cultivate a reverence for all life and send forth wishing prayers for peace and authentic happiness for all beings.
Tibetan New Year or Losar (Lo means year and Sar means new) begins on February 22nd, 2012 and is the Year of the Dragon, specifically the Water Dragon.
Losar is considered to be the most significant and opulent festival of the Buddhist community in Tibet, and is celebrated with great splendor and grandeur. The festival is celebrated from the first to the third of the first lunar month, and some people even continue with their celebrations for the next ten to fifteen days as well. It is the time to meet the elder members of the family. Special dishes are cooked. Tribute to the Dalai Lama is paid during the New Year.
The festival has its origins in ancient Tibet, before the arrival of Buddhism, when Bon was the dominant religion, and many rituals were required to placate the spirits and deities to ensure a good harvest in the upcoming year. The focus is on purifying and getting ready for the new year. The festival is said to have begun when an old woman named Belma introduced the measurement of time based on the phases of the moon. This festival took place during the flowering of the apricot trees of the Lhokha Yarla Shampo region in autumn, and it may have been the first celebration of what has become the traditional farmers’ festival. It was during this period that the arts of cultivation, irrigation, refining iron from ore and building bridges were first introduced in Tibet. The ceremonies which were instituted to celebrate these new capabilities can be recognized as precursors of the Losar festival. Later when the rudiments of astrology, based on the five elements, were introduced in Tibet, this farmer’s festival became what we now call the Losar.
Because of this symbolic spiritual connection, many people see the Year of the Water Dragon as an especially powerful time for spiritual growth and practice. When combined with the general Dragon qualities of intensity, and the themes of challenges and breakthroughs that characterize Dragon years, 2012 represents the possibility of tremendous spiritual growth, with potential for breaking through to new levels in practice and insight.