The Spirit of Losar

by Tenzin Choedon

There were so many stages in my life when Losar meant different things to me.

A traditional Losar shrine offering items to invoke auspiciousness and abundance for the New Year

Losar when growing up reminds me of fun and excitement. All I cared about were the new clothes, brand new shoes, money under my pillow that I always believed the Losar Fairy (my parents made sure to put the money in an envelope) had placed and of course, the fire crackers on the 29th day of the last month before Losar. The altar looked beautiful with all the Derka and offerings, but those were amongst the least of my interest although asking Konchok (god) for permission to steal some chocolates and candies, nuts and dried cheese from the altar is another thing.

Losar then began to challenge me as a grown up. I started feeling embarrassed wearing new clothes and wasn’t too excited about getting extra pocket money. Losar was about going to school and giving exams. Losar was about taking more responsibilities, it was about learning how to arrange the altar and the offerings, preparation for Guthuk, sweet rice and my favourite – butter tea.

Eating Guthuk is an important Tibetan tradition that signifies the safe passage into the New Year.

There after, Losar became a tool. A tool to get peoples’ attention to our cause. A tool for Tibetans inside to defy the Chinese authority. A tool for Tibetans living around the world to be ourselves and celebrate our existence.

Losar could be like any other new year, but to me, although the meaning of Losar varied each time, these different stages helped me grow into my identity.

The Chinese authority may try and manipulate our Losar, but they can’t take away the Spirit of Losar – the spirit of being Tibetan. 

Resistance in Tibet: Self-immolations and protest

resistance in tibet
Open publication

China’s repressive policies over the 60 years since it occupied Tibet, and the severe crackdown that followed plateau-wide Uprisings in 2008, have created a crisis in Tibet, provoking an unprecedented wave of self-immolations by Tibetan monks, nuns and laypeople.

In January 2012 a new wave of large-scale protests broke out with demonstrators calling for freedom in Tibet and the return of the Dalai Lama. Chinese security forces responded to these peaceful protests by opening fire on demonstrators, killing at least five Tibetans and seriously injuring many more.

The self-immolations and protests of 2011 and 2012 have been primarily centered in eastern Tibet, an area with a strong history of dissent despite China’s intense and systematic crackdown. Since widespread popular protests in 2008 the area has been flooded with armed troops and virtually closed off from the world. Many monasteries have been all but shut down and Tibetans are routinely harassed by the authorities in the streets, in their workplaces and in their homes.

To date there have been 24* self-immolations; 11 since January 2012. At least 14 have been fatal. As Tibetan resistance to Chinese rule continues, Beijing has tightened security and embarked on a major propaganda drive to paint self-immolation as a form of ‘terrorism’. However, as Tenzin Dorjee, leading Tibet activist and Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet said, “Tibetans who have set themselves on fire in protest were exemplary community members and even widely respected Tibetan leaders who displayed courage and integrity in their final acts of defiance — qualities of character far beyond the reach of the Chinese bureaucrats and officials who attempt to demonize them from Beijing.”

China’s flagrant disregard for fundamental human rights and its cruel and systematic assault on the Tibetan people has to be condemned by global leaders. The scale of this crisis and China’s continued unwillingness to acknowledge concern warrants a strong international response.

This report highlights the widespread recent resistance in Tibet and demonstrates the strong Tibetan identity and unity among the Tibetan people.

Soul of the Tibetans


Song by Tsewang Lhamo

Snow mountains are my soul
Blue rivers is my lifeline,
My name is the Land of Snow
I am Tibetan. I speak Tibetan.
I love Tibet’s spiritual inheritance
I love Tibet’s art and culture
My name is the Land of Dharma
I am Tibetan. I study Tibetan.
My name is the Tibetan Plateau
I am a Tibetan girl. I love Tibet.
My ancestors were a monkey and an ogress
I am Tibetan. I speak Tibetan.


Gepe “Are you thinking, Tibetans?”

Are you thinking, Tibetans?

ཚིག་ སྡོང་བཙན་རྒྱལ་བར།
དབྱངས། དགེ་པེ།
རྡུང་ལེན་པ། དགེ་པ།

སོ་ཡེ། བོད་ཡིག་བོད་སྐད་བོད་ཀྱི་སྲོལ།

སོ་ཡེ། མདོ་སྔགས་བཤད་སྒྲུབ་བསྟན་པའི་རྒྱན།

སོ་ཨེ། ཕ་ཡུལ་གངས་རིའི་མིའི་འགྲོ་བ།

སོ་ཨེ། ཁ་ལས་རླུང་རྟ་དར་བ་རེད།

སོ་ཨེ། མི་རིགས་ཀུན་ལ་མཐུན་སྒྲིལ་དགོས།

Tibetan language and Tibetan tradition,
are the essence of Tibetan people.
Tibetans, are you teaching this (these?),
to young Tibetan boys and girls?

The religious learning and practice,
is an inner jewel.
Tibetans, are you sharing this,
to (with?) the world?

The people of this land of snow,
is descendent (are descended?) of one race.
Tibetans, like good sons of a noble father,
Have you been friendly to each other?

Adorning (the? or a?) prayer flag,
is a hope of the people of the snow.
Tibetans, have you give(n?) it a thought,
in clear mind and speech?

To be friendly to all ethnic(ities?),
will bring happiness to live.
But you also need love for your own kind. ?Tibetans, did you understand this?

(Translation: Jigme)