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Tamu Losar
Updated: Monday 2nd November 2015

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Tamu is another name of Gurung community of Nepal and Losar means New Year. Tamu Losar is celebration of Gurung’s New Year. The Tamu Losar marks the beginning of the Tamu Sambat or Gurung Calendar Year. 

When do we celebrate Tamu Losar (When is Tamu Losar)

Tamu Losar is celebrated on every 15 Poush of the Nepali calendar (in December/January). This year Losar is on 30th December 2013 on Sunday. 

How do we celebrate Tamu Losar

Losar is the time when family members of all generations get together and exchange love and greetings.

In big cities, Gurungs come together to celebrate Tamu Losar

 (Gurung’s New Year) at a common place and rejoice in various cultural processions, feasting and greetings. 

In the old days in the villages, they gathered in courtyards to celebrate Losar. In Kathmandu, Losar is

celebrated in Tundikhel ground at the city center vibrant with colorful stalls and people flooding inside on Poush 15 under Nepali Bikaram Sambat Calendar. Poush 15 marks the end of winter and start of spring that also brings warmness and charm to Tamu Losar.

Gurungs all across the world celebrate Tamu Losar by organizing rallies in traditional attires and cultural programs. They also visit Buddhist shrines on that day. The days in Losar and the events are the opportunities to Nepal traveler to witness cultural heritages of the Gurung community. 

Gurungs (Tamu) are indigenous inhabitants of west-central parts of Nepal and some live east of Kathmandu. There are numerous clans of Gurungs, the members of which are all well known for their bravery and cultural wealth. Their warm welcome and hospitality at the Losar celebration were evident from the plates with sel roti (Nepali Bread) and Achaar (Nepali pickles) being served in the festival. 

Gurungs divide time into cycles of 12 years (lohokor), to each year of which a special name is given, which is known as Barga (lho). Losar also heralds the change in ‘Lho’. According to the oriental astrological system, there are 12 lhos–garuda, serpent, horse, sheep, monkey, bird, dog, deer, mouse, cow, tiger and cat. Therefore, each year is marked by a particular animal and they are arranged in a single circle (on paper), closely following the Tibetan calendar with its’ 12 animals. In early days, when there was no calendar system in Nepal, the 12 rotation system was used to calculate peoples’ ages. As Poush 15 marks the end of winter and start of spring, Losar it traditionally celebrated for three days doing banbhoj (picnic) too. 

What do Gurung wear in Losar

Gurung men wear Bhangra, a white cloth shirt-like apparel tied across the chest and open like a bag at the back (for carrying things), and a Kachhad, like a short sarong or kilt. Gurung women, both children and adolescents, were seen in their maroon velvet Ghalek (blouses), enhanced by large gold earrings and semi-precious stone necklaces. Sometimes stalls selling varieties of delicacies are set up by people from different areas, families or individuals in the common gathering place to celebrate Losar. Good mood food, good company and music are the essence of good times. People in small and large groups sat on the ground enjoying delicious Gurung dishes. People perform traditional and cultural dancing. Home-made raksi (alcohol) are also being served. 

It’s a public holiday in Nepal on Tamu Losar day. Gurungs are very rich in tradition and culture. Rodhighar, Chudka, Sorathi, Ghantu and Dhori are some of their wonderful are the contribution of Gurung culture to Nepal. Gurungs have their own language, cultural, festivals, rituals, traditional, but are consistence with Nepali culture and values.  

History of Gurung

In 1958, Bernard Pignede, a French student of anthropology came to Nepal to study about Gurungs. He spent seven months in a Gurung village Mohoriya (Kaski, Gandaki) and traveled through many neighboring Gurung villages to do his research. He learned to speak  tamu-kuwei (gurung dialect) and documented pretty much everything about the gurungs - their social structure, culture, religion, history, occupations, legends and myths. He translated pae, a ritual and religious pratice that one gurung generation has passed down to another for thousands of years. Pae conveys the oral history of gurungs and is considered very sacred. Unfortunately, Pignede died tragically in 1961 at age of 29. After his death, Professor Louis Dumont published Pegnede’s work in 1966. The book was immediately recognized as a major contribution to the anthropology of the Himalayas. Later, two noted anthropoligists - Sarah Harrison and Alan Macfarlane ( http://www.alanmacfarlane.com ) translated it in English and published the first English version in 1993. Harrison and Macfarlane did further study of gurungs and added more to Pignede's work. The English version of book is called "The Gurungs", which is probably the most acclaimed research on Gurungs so far. 

An excerpt taken from Bernard Pignede’s book "The Gurungs" consists of a brief history of the Gurungs as compiled by Bhovar Palje Tamu and Yarjung Kromchhe Tamu based upon the pae. "The Tamu (Gurung) Pye refers to the very beginning of civilization, more than eight or nine thousand years ago. They tell the origin of human beings and of the materials that they used. Tamu Priests still use some of these primitive utensils in their rituals. The Pye do not seem to have changed substantially over time. They refer to the ancestors of the Tamu, their Aji-khe (Khe-ku, nine male ancestors), Aji-ma (Ma-i, seven female ancestors), and Aba Kara Klye, spiritual master, lords, ghosts etc.

Tamu Pye tells how the first people lived in Cho (Tso) Nasa, a lakeside village, where they planted the first grain, barley. Then they dispersed to other places such as Sa Nasa, Dwo Nasa, Si Nasa and Kro Nasa, the latter being in the south, hot and fertile. Later the northern Cho Nasa was rich in religious activity, speaking Tamu-Kwyi. Other Tamu villages developed according to their proximity to the northern and southern ends. There are also stories about the discovery of fire, how the drum was first made, and many other things in the Pye..   source: weallnepali.com/nepali-festivals/tamu-losar