After orientation, we resettled in the little town called Boudha northeast of downtown Kathmandu. During the week, our normal schedule starts 8:30am with Tibetan language classes, following by lunch and then lectures with topics varying from politics to religion.
During the weekend, we celebrated Losar (Tibetan New Year) and I got to experience Tibetan traditions.
2nd night before the new year, my homestay family got together for dinner and played a game, in which they hid a different word in each dough ball and mixed them all in a soup called tzhupa. During dinner, we are each given a dough ball in our bowl and we open the dough ball to see which word we had. It is a fun game to celebrate the new year and “predict” our luck for the next year. I opened mine and got the word “sun”, which is one of the good words. Not wanting to ruin the authentic moments, I did not photograph anything during the times I spent with my family.
On the actual morning of Losar, I was woken up at 6am and called into the family’s shrine room. There, we were served 4 different types of food, each phase occurred with certain customs. Before eating, the whole family read a mantra. It is amazing to see how Buddhist traditions have infiltrated every aspect of Tibetan life. We also visited a nunnery in which my ama-la (mother) knew a friend there. We gave offers to the rinpoche (great teacher) who sponsored the nunnery as a part of the Losar tradition. My family tells me that in Tibet, the celebration is much bigger and grander. I cannot imagine how much more interesting the celebration would have been, if it wasn’t for the current situation they are placed under.
The second day, my family did not have plans. So I decided to visit Swayabunath, also known as the Monkey Temple. It is located on the western end of Kathmandu on a hill. It is another sacred Buddhist pilgramage site which many Tibetan Buddhists visit on Losar. We hiked up to the top of the hill and walked through the sacred site. Despite the many tourists, it was a beautiful place.