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Unique Gonpo New Year traditions in Tibet's Nyingchi

  • Source : VTIBET.com Author : Tenzin Woebom Time : 11/09/2018 Editor : Tenzin Woebom

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    As different prefectures of the Tibet Autonomous Region celebrate the New Year at different times, Tibet might be the only place in the world with the most New Year festivals.

     

    Among all the New Year festivals, the Gonpo New Year of southeast Tibet's Nyingchi City is the earliest one. It is generally celebrated on Oct. 1 of the Tibetan calendar every year, and this year it falls on Nov. 8.

     

    Every year when the most important festival comes, a series of traditional folk customs highlights the Gonpo New Year, one of which is as follows:

     

    There is a dinner where dogs are invited. The evening of Gonpo New Years Eve, domestic dogs are invited to a banquet held by their owners.

     

    When the banquet commences, the dog owners put various festive foods, such as tsamba (roasted highland barley flour), fried dough, meat, yak butter, milk dregs, sapodilla, brown sugar, dried peach, apple, and walnut kernel on plates or on a long plank in the center of the courtyard, with walnut shells full of highland barley and buttered tea, and then call the dog by saying "enjoy your dinner, happy dog".

     

    It is believed that the dogs' choice of eating one food rather than others is dependent on a certain god and will foretell the future. It bodes well for a good harvest if the dog eats tsamba or pancakes, bodes well for animal husbandry if the dog eats yak butter or milk dregs, and portends health and happiness if the dog eats dried peaches.

     

    On the other hand, there are also some bad omens. It is believed that there will be death or plague in the coming new year if the dog eats meat on Gonpo New Year Eve. Contrary to what many may believe, dogs usually don't eat any meat on the night of the banquet.

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