Ulaanbaatar - The "Tsagaan Sar" is a festival among the oldest and most important of Mongolian culture and means "white moon." It is full of symbolism and rituals that take place in families, such as a thorough cleaning of the house, good wishes pronounced by the elderly, prayers for a good omen (Marsh, 2009). The population of Mongolia celebrates it coinciding with the Lunar New Year, (between the end of January and the beginning of March according to the position of the moon)
According to Mongolian cosmology and Tibet, the world came from the interactivity of five elements - iron, earth, fire, water, and wood - each materialized by a color. Tsagaan Sar means the "white month, " and it is also the time when milk is withdrawn again. According to the ritual, preparations begin one month in advance. Families prepare gifts, clean their houses and buy new clothes (Tsagaan Sar, 2017). The tradition is to kill the fastest lamb and serve the boiled skirt and tail throughout the feast, as the Tsagaan Sar symbolizes the prosperity of the family. Before dawn, the nomads leave the yurt and bow in the direction of the four cardinal points before proceeding to the offerings of milk of mare or cow. A whole series of family greetings follow in a perfectly established order. When the sun appears, they share the New Year's tea before going to greet the relatives or the influential people and giving them gifts. The lamb can then be cut and served just like dairy-based dishes. In the city, celebrations last a single day while in the steppe they last for one or two weeks.
According to information from Fides, the community of about a thousand baptized in Mongolia, fully integrated into the local culture, endorses this celebration by incorporating it into the liturgy and giving it a new meaning. Since the celebration of the white moon marks the beginning of spring and is regarded as a new beginning, they pray for peace and the welfare of the nation.
Butter Lantern Festival
About the Festival
The festival falls in the first month of the Tibetan calendar on the 15th and is traditionally considered as a part of the Monlam Prayer Festival which is a week before. The Tibetan Butter Lamp Festival is the last and great day of the Monlam festival commemorating the Buddha's miracles. In the Western calendar, the festival is March 8th in 2012 but falls on a different day each year in the Western calendar. During the day, people go to temples, and there are exhibitions of butter colored sculptures of Buddhas or animals, flowers, and birds (Melton, 2011). The sculptures are psychedelic. Then at night, thousands of butter lamps represent the light of Buddhism. The day commemorates the victory and wisdom of Buddha and is an interesting site especially on Barkhor Street in Lhasa the capital of Tibet.
The Festival of the butter lamp falls on the night of full moon. It is the best day of the Tibetan New Year holiday season that begins with the Losar New Year Festival on the first day of the month, continues with the Monlam Festival period, and ends with the Butter Lamp Festival. The colorful and intricate butter sculptures designed are called "Tormas." Making these tormas has been a tradition for hundreds of years. Now, some of the great butter sculptures tell the story of Buddha and his moral victory (Wei, 2011). Several characters from the ancient history are depicted to instruct people in history. Barkhor Street and its square became a place of great exhibition for tormas sculpted in butter. It's a fantastic night. Some of the sculptures are illuminated, and with thousands of lights on, they make a meditative or fascinating scene.
Butter lamps are made with yak butter or vegetable oil in a bowl with a wick. The lamps produce a smoky light. In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, a lot of lights together are conducive to meditation and focus of the mind. So on special days, people and monks in the temples offer thousands of light lamps. They put them on scaffolding that can be several stories high. Tibetans also supply butter and vegetable oil to the monasteries to earn merit. The lights banish the darkness. Just as butter or vegetable oil becomes light, it is believed that human minds can be illuminated. In addition to seeing butter sculptures and lights, people dance and sing in the streets. It is a moment of celebration and is said to be their most joyful celebration. It's kind of like a Western New Year celebration.
Melton, J. Gordon (2011). "Lantern Festival (Taiwan)". In Melton, J. Gordon.
Religious Celebrations: An Encyclopedia of Holidays, Festivals, Solemn Observances, and Spiritual Commemorations
Marsh, Peter. The Horse-head Fiddle and the Cosmopolitan Reimagination of Tradition of
Mongolia. Routledge, 2009, p. 136.
Tsagan Sar: The Mongolian Lunar New Year". Mongoluls. 2017. March 13, 2017.Mongoluls.netWei, Liming (2011). Tibet Festivals. Cambridge University Press. pp. 2528.
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