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10february2011011Dharamshala: Many writers and bloggers from inside and outside Tibet criticise people from Amdho, eastern Tibet, saying that they celebrate Chinese New Year instead of Tibetan Losar (New Year). The Tibet Post International asked Kanyag Tsering, a monk from Kirti monastery (Dharamshala), about this topic.

This year, Tibetan Losar wasn't celebrated as usual. According to Tibetan traditions, people sing and dance with much noise. People didn't do that this year, and neither did they visit their families, neighbours and relatives. This year, Tibetans did dance and sing, but in a quiet way, and the main reason was to keep the tradition and the Tibetan culture alive. On the first day of Losar, people also usually burn incense in the early morning and play with firecrackers, but this didn't happen this year.
Last year, one of the Lamas from Ngapa, Kirti Rinpoche, asked people not to eat meat during Losar. That's why many people from places like Ngapa, Zoige and Barkam didn't have meat at that time.

Many people say that Amdho Losar is Chinese Losar...
I don't know much about astrology. But I can say Amdo Losar is not Chinese Losar. Some years the dates happen to be similar, even with the Lhasa Losar. But sometimes, Chinese Losar, Amdo Losar, and also Lhssa Losar are not celebrated at the same time. This year, Chinese Losar and Amdho Losar took place on the same date, that's why people say that Amdo Losar is in fact the Chinese New Year. But it depends only on astrology, not on what people say.
This summer, many people from Tibet said we should celebrate Losar altogether, on the same date. If monasteries take this kind of decision, then people follow it without any question. But this year we didn't wait for the Lhasa Losar because we would have had to celebrate it after one more month and the traditional prayers and teachings given after Losar would have overlapped with he Uprising Day celebration. If so, Chinese would then control the gatherings and make the prayers and teachings difficult to attend. This is what happened last year.

According to some people, Chinese expressed their preference for a Losar celebration based on the Amdho calendar, but I don't know if this is true or not.

In Tibet, many regional channels and also the Chinese Qinghai channel keep broadcasting lots of celebrations where people seem to enjoy the festivities...

I didn't watch channels from the Tibetan autonomous region, but I watched Qinghai channel. I think that they don't only dance out of joy and happiness, but also to keep their traditions and culture. We can see many children on the television dancing and singing in a traditional way, just like elder people. If people express their admiration to those children, this will encourage them and develop their interest toward Tibetan culture and traditions. Losar is a very important time to keep our culture alive.

This year, presenters from those T.V. programs also recalled the memory of people who died in Tibet because of natural disasters. They said that 2010 was an unfortunate year but that we have to go forward and celebrate a new and lucky year. From that, we can also see how Tibetan people are united.

Are people dancing and singing because of Chinese government pressure?

I don't think it's 100% due to the Chinese government's orders. But if Tibetans don't celebrate Losar on time, I think they might have some problems.

This year, if people are not celebrating Losar, it is not because of a political matter. But the Chinese are probably thinking that this is a movement of solidarity to the victims of last summer's earthquake, and this can lead to some problems for the Tibetans.

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