Ladakh (Jammu-Kashmir), Dec 29: Ahead of the first dawn of 2007, Ladakhis celebrated the onset of Losar festival on Thursday, which according to the Tibetan calendar, generally commences a week prior to the Gregorian New Year, with fun n' frolic.
Losar, a Tibetan word for New Year is made of "Lo" means year and "sar" means new. The celebrations for the Losar festival will last till the January end.
People in the snow clad Leh District of Jammu and Kashmir, came out on streets, swinging huge fireballs known as "Metho" to celebrate the festival, traditionally celebrated as the dawn of the New Year.
Men, participating in the fire processions, whirled torches creating a fantastic display of fire and light. By the end, all the torches are thrown well outside the town to bid farewell to the year gone by and to welcome the new one.
Buddhists and others thronged the town's main monastery to pray and pay obeisance to Maitreya Buddha or, the future Buddha.
"The festival of Losar starts from the 15th of the Hindu month Kartik. Lord Chakra cambhava was born on the 15th of Kartik month. Moreover on the same day Vinia was also introduced in Tibet. On this day, people visit the temples and pray for world peace," said Tshering Norbu Martey, a
The Losar festival (also known as Halda in Lahuli) is celebrated between the months of January and February. The Lamas decide the date of celebration. It has the same significance as the Diwali festival of Hinduism, but is celebrated in a Tibetan fashion.
At the start of the festival, two or three persons from every household will come holding burning incense. The burning sticks are then piled into a bonfire. The people will then pray to Shiskar Apa, the goddess of wealth in the Buddhist religion.
Buddhists celebrate Losar with gaiety and fervour, which include illuminations, drinking, dancing, singing and general merry-making.
The rituals are conducted for weeks together where complicated prayer ceremonies are conducted to felicitate the village ancestors and to oust the evil and negative forces from the villages.
They believe celebrating Losar will bid them of sufferings and miseries of the past years and bring happiness and prosperity in their lives in the coming years.
The festivities recreate the rich cultural heritage of Ladakh, popularly known as the roof of the world, situated at a height of 12,000 feet to 4,000 feet.