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London celebrates the Tibetan Buddhist New Year

Prayers are made during the celebration. Photo: DarshanaPhotoArt/KSDL

Lydia Polzer from Kagyu Samye Dzong London writes about the importance of New Year's Day and explains what the special celebration means to the Tibetan Buddhist community.

Losar itself is not exclusively Buddhist, it is the New Year according to the Tibetan lunar calendar.

For two weeks leading up to the actual New Year's Day, prayers are done to clear away the old year's negativity and obstacles to welcome in the new year.

This is the gesture symbolising offerings- a central aspect of Losar. Credit: DarshanaPhotoArt/KSDL

For the first 15 days of the new year Tibetan Buddhists celebrate the Buddha's miracles as this time is considered very special.

The celebrations invite all god and auspicious things into people's homes and lives.

Some Tibetan Buddhist families may build a special Losar shrine which serves as a prominent symbol of their wish to cultivate a generous heart and invoke blessings.

Some people build special shrines. Credit: DarshanaPhotoArt/KSDL

There are many special Losar dishes, such as Tibetan sweet rice, that are prepared at New Year.

Rituals for purifying the home and body are also practiced at the close of the old year. Many Tibetan Buddhist monasteries mark the first 15 days of the new year with a fasting practice called Nyungney.

Kagyu Samye Dzong Buddhist Centre is celebrating the special event today. Credit: DarshanaPhotoArt/KSDL

Monasteries and Buddhist Centres, including Kagyu Samye Dzong London, will mark New Year's Day with prayers for World Peace and Health. The King of Aspirations Prayer will also be made.

Kagyu Samye Dzong will be celebrating the special event today in the capital, while Samye Ling in Scotland begins Nyungney practice on February 21.