Losar at Odsal Ling 2011
During this last February 5th, we celebrated at the Odsal Ling Temple in Cotia, São Paulo, Losar, the Tibetan’s New Year, as we do every year. This year is the year of the Iron Hare (lcags-mo yos-lo, 2138), considered to be one of the most possible fortunate year, according to the Tibetan tradition.
And, of course, we documented our celebration as the readers will be able to see in the videos that follow. But it is always good practice to begin this post by listening to a traditional prayer so beautifully chanted by Abby Rogers, our intinerant practitioner, who always find a little way (or Brazilian “jeitinho”) to come and visit us in Brazil.
Well, a lot is said about Losar as we always find ourselves wishing “Tashi Delek” to everyone we meet in the Sangha. In Tibetan “Lo” means year and “Sar” means new.
In Brazil one can say that we know very little about Losar. Thus, I thought with myself that I should try to explain a little bit of what I know of the background and meaning of Losar before I show the rest of the videos shot in celebration of this Years’ Losar at the Odsal Ling.
It is interest to note that Losar precedes the introduction of Buddhism in Tibet and that it dates to the times when the Bon religion was predominant in the region. The Losar festivities were aimed at thanking the Gods with practices of purification rituals.
With the introduction of Buddhism in Tibet, the calendar and festivities of Losar were kept as they were however with peculiar differences brought by the new religion.
Tibetan New Year’s festivities take place in January or February. Tibetan Buddhists follow the lunar calendar so that the date of Losar changes each year. While Losar’s celebrations once lasted for as long as two weeks, in modern times, Losar is normally a three-day festivities. Losar is celebrated by Buddhists in Tibet, India, Bhutan, Sikkim and in Tibetan expatriate communities throughout the world.
Losar is also an important time for the Buddhist community in general and specially for Buddhist monks. The temples and monasteries are spring-cleaned and put up with special decorations and ornaments. People dress up with their best traditional outfits. They recite prayers and perform practices to dissolve negativities of the old year and purify the new year. Monks also make a point of wishing good luck for the forthcoming year to the Dalai Lama.
When I tell my friends that I am a Buddhist, the great curiosity — apart from the fact that I became a Buddhist — is about the names given to each New Year. For most Westerns, it seems a rather cumbersome process but in fact it is not. To the contrary, it is very logical.
As in the Chinese calendar, each year receives the name of an animal. However, pursuant to Tibetan Buddhism tradition, an element is added to the name of the animal, such as iron, earth, fire, water and so forth; And the animal’s gender alter each year from a female to male. For instance, the Tibetan year starting February 2005 was the year of the Female Wood Bird year, followed by the year of the Male Fire Dog and so on in a sixty-year cycle.
Now back to our celebrations. This year’s Losar fell during the Vajrakilaya Drubchen, which took place at Khadro Ling, Rio Grande do Sul. Thus, our lama, Lama Tsering could not be present at our festivities at the Odsal Ling, as she always attends the Vajrakilaya Drubchen at Khadro Ling.
Nonetheless Lama Tsering was absent of our festivities, she was in fact present to the Losar commemoration at the Odsal Ling, as her presence was felt at each and every moment of our practice, which started early quite before dawn.
It is traditional that at the end of the Losar practice the practitioners make special presentations, tell stories, sing musics all in jubilation of the entrance of the new year and in this case a very special year, the year of the Iron Hare.
And thus this is my story of what has happened and which the videos that follow try to reflect.
So, Tashi Delek to All!
Abby Rogers beautiful interpretation of “Imagine”, by John Lennon
It is always so beautiful listen to her voice…
And then followed a great story teller, telling us stories that remind us of our Brazilian traditions and that in a certain way and shape, in my opinion, demonstrates an “avant premier” of the meeting of two cultures and traditions. Our dearest Joana, with her remarkable presence, has this to tell us:
The best is yet to come and usually left to the end. I refer to the stories that followed which were told to us by those students who had the blessings to have the intimacy of being near our great master, Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche. Unfortunately, my Kharma has not taken me that far, for I had no chance to have met him in his lifetime, nor had I the opportunity to listen to his teachings directly but today I can hear his teachings by other realized masters such as Khandro-La, Lama Tsering, Lama Norbu, Lama Sherab and also to hear beautiful stories told by his own students who leave to us in this Losar remarkable testimonies of such memorable acquaintanceship with their master.
And the stories continue, lovely stories they are:
And at the end, Caio, our Unze, calls upon us: let’s practice!
And thus here we have a brief story of the passage to the year of the Iron Hare at the Odsal Ling, a year, as I said, as one of most possible fortunate year according to the Buddhist Tibetan tradition.
HAPPY LOSAR !