Story text by Tenzin Lhakmon and Photos by Tenzin Phende
The memories I have of Losar from when I was younger is sleeping off to the dim flickering light emanating from the candle lit in the kitchen, the clattering of vessels, my parents in the midst of Losar preparation late into the night and my new clothes tucked neatly folded under the pillow.
The heartwarming smell of Khapsey, a traditional Tibetan cookie specially made during the losar, lingers around as my friend and I walk through the streets of Mcleod Ganj taking pictures.
This acquainted smell intrudes into my thoughts, and though the soles of my shoes brush against the dusty tar road, I am somewhere else.
I am with my family and close relatives all gathered to make Khapsey and my job is to colour the dough. Bright Red, Green, and Yellow food colorants, the flattened round dough filled with my messy colour scheme which would then be cut and twisted and turned to make different shapes and then fried. I can still feel that cold feeling mounted on the tips of my finger dipped in the different food colorants and then going berserk on the canvas that was a flattened round dough.
Khapsey that looks like a braided hair, ones with several knots, or ones that looks like an eye, for sale on the streets meant Losar is near.
It is this sense of togetherness or oneness that bubbles out during as we prepare for Losar is close to my heart and of course there is gift money and new clothes and no homework that made it all the more special when I was very young.
As I gaze through Tibetans opening their business for the day, colourful jewellery set against bright red backdrop with teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama playing from the stereos amidst the noises of development, drilling and constructions, cars honking as they zig zag through the street I thought of how us Tibetans have come so far.
Inside the cobweb of confusions and noise I wondered if its the absence of my family that I no longer feel that excitement, that rush for Losar… Or is it the cultural vacuum that is yet to fill with knowledge that would be or should I say should be passed on to me from my parents.
My heart fluttered as my friend and I went around Tsuglagkhang passing by the pictures and memorial for Tibetans who have sacrificed their live for us, passing by older Tibetans prostrating in front of the throne beating the weak knees that trembles as they bow down. We indeed have come a long way, we the younger generations are born out their sweat and struggle. We still have so far to go.