Culture

Games, Music Kick Off Buddhist New Year for the Himalayan Club

Students lined up in a chain to play the game called act-it-out.

Kicking one foot at a time with simultaneous hands swings and stomp after each beat, nearly two dozen students dance in a circular form as the traditional Tibetan music played. The flags of both Tibet and Nepal hung against the wall and a table full of traditional delicacies–momo, alu achar, khapsey filled the front of the room. Dressed in traditional South Asian clothes, the executive board of Hunter Himalyan Club greeted students at Hunter College last Wednesday night to celebrate Losar, the Buddhist New Year.

Losar is a significant festival for Himalayan people as it welcomes new year with joy and prosperity, said Sonam Sherpa, president of the Hunter Himalayan club who is from Nepal. It is very important to keep that culture alive, he said.

“Lo” means year and “sha” means new in Tibetan language. Every year is symbolized by an animal. This year represents Jhi-Wa-Lo (rat) which returns every 12 years. The festival lasted from February 24 to 26.

Losar is the time of the year where families and friends gather up. “When I was back in Nepal, I used to wake up early and help my grandfather do morning puja ”said Doma Sherpa, referring to an act of worship. Doma is a friend of Sherpa from City College of New York who came to Hunter to celebrate Losar with her friends.

Students playing the game called human knot.

The gathering took place at Thomas Hunter room 414 which resonated with traditional Tibetan and Nepali pop music while students played guthuk, a traditional game that reveals people’s personality. Each person took a folded sheet of paper with different types of nouns written. The room filled with laughter and sarcasm as the host revealed what each noun represented, onion and chili being the most ridiculed as they meant personality full of a bag of farts and hot-headed, respectively. 

Games, performances and food are the customary of the festival. Friends and families, regardless of their cultures, are always invited. Akshat Shrestha, who is not from a Himalayan descent, sang a Nepali song with his hands playing the guitar and eyes shut, in celebration of the Buddhist new year. The entire room cheered and poured him with applause at the end of his performance.

Traditional Tibetan Dance

Traditionally, Losar is also the time of the year when people show off their new clothes. In order to keep the ritual alive, a fashion show was conducted as the showstopper of the event. The executive-board members, Nawang Yangzon and Mima Bal strided in colorful chuba (tibetan women dress), Sonam Sherpa walked in a black and gold zhuigui (sherpa’s formal dress), and Lisani Shrestha showed off her pink kurta (loose collarless shirt) representing the South part of Nepal.   

 

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