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Tibetans Start New Year Celebrations

updated: 2012-02-23

Xinhua, February 22, 2012  
Feasts and family gatherings, firecrackers and rituals to dispel ghosts, prayers for health and harvest -- this is how Tibetans across China opened their celebrations for Losar, the Tibetan New Year, on Monday night.
The start of the Year of the Water Dragon, which falls on Wednesday, is a festival for China's 5 million Tibetans, and celebrations will last until the 15th day of the first Tibetan month.
Lhapa returned to his parents' house in Dagze County on the outskirts of Lhasa late Monday afternoon for a feast marking the "ghost-exorcising festival."
The festival, which falls on the 29th day of the last Tibetan month of the year, features family reunions and torch and firework lightings, and, in many ways, it is similar to Chinese New Year's Eve.
College-educated Lhapa has a white-collar job in downtown Lhasa and visits his parents only on holidays.
His mother prepared a rich variety of Tibetan foods: dairy snacks, beef, tsamba, and highland barley liquor. The main course, however, was Guthuk, a traditional Tibetan barley crumb snack with a meaty filling, also known as "29th dumplings".
Guthuk dumplings are cooked in a soup of minced beef, slices of radish and vegetables, and they are full of small surprises that bring laughter and gossip.
The entire family roared with laughter when Lhapa's younger sister Nyima spat out a piece of charcoal from one of her dumplings. "Why me? You guys know me well enough to mock me."

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