Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Through Tibetan Eyes: Monks Urged by the Dalai Lama to Spend Losar Remembering
Today in Tibet is the start of the holiday Losar which is the Tibetan New Year. Losar (lo, year, sar, new) began as a pre-Buddhist observance in which rituals were performed each winter to appease the spirit protectors of the mountains. After Buddhism arrived in Tibet around the 6th century BCE, the holiday merged with Buddhist traditions. Since the 13th century, Losar has traditionally fallen on the first day of the first lunar month. It is usually a time of new beginnings and great celebration. But this year, the burgundy robed Tibetan Buddhist monks have been urged via cell phone text messages to mark the day with silence and prayer rather than celebration.
The Globe and Mail reports that "the movement to boycott the New Year's events is a highly organized one, originating from the Dalai Lama's home in exile in Dharamsala, in northern India."
"A lot of people were killed on March 14. In our culture, we don't celebrate Losar if someone in your family died during the previous year," said Thubbstan, a 24-year-old Tibetan monk who was passing through Chengdu this week.
Thubbstan referred to the pro-independence protests in Tibet last March that were brutally shut down by Chinese soldiers.
Many monks were killed in the violence.
"We cannot forget our fellow men who sacrificed for our benefit," reads a text message a Tibetan monk received on his cellphone several weeks ago. "To commemorate Losar, we will not celebrate, we will not fire fireworks, we won't wear new clothes, we won't dance, we won't sing. We will protest silently and we will pray."
Through Tibetan Eyes
72"x96" oil on linen 2008
We will protest silently and we will pray
Taking Back Our Losar