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Sonam Lhosar – January 22, 2023

Sonam Lhosar celebrations kickstart with a bang on the second new moon after the winter solstice. This year it falls on January 22. The extravagant festival is celebrated in Nepal each year to mark the beginning of the Tibetan New Year. And yes, celebrations are arranged weeks in advance for the auspicious occasion! On the day, men and women adorn colorful and traditional attires and dance to the traditional music created by the damphu drum, and consume tasty dishes of the region. If you like experiencing unique cultures, now is the best time to head to Nepal.

History of Sonam Lhosar

Sonam Lhosar is the New Year of the Tamang community residing in Nepal. The word ‘Lhosar’ means ‘New Year’ or ‘the beginning of a new era’ for the Tamangs. Here’s a little more about the Tamang community: This is a group of individuals in Nepal who mainly live in the central highlands as well as around Kathmandu Valley. The community makes up about 8% of Nepal’s population and is known for their unique traditions. The word ‘Tamang’ itself means ‘horse traders.’ Though the origins of the name are unclear, it is assumed the people were connected with the business of horse trading or riding. Over time, the community members have also migrated to various regions across the world including India and Burma.

The traditions of the Tamang differ from other Nepalis, and they are also known to follow an ancient Tibetan or Chinese lunar calendar. This is why their New Year usually falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice. Tamangs also have a tradition of counting the year by associating each month with a different animal. These include a rat, a boar, a monkey, snakes, and several others.

Each year, the Tamangs kickstart the new year with a bang and festivities tend to last for over a week. During the month, they clean and decorate their houses to welcome the new year. In a way, it is also like making new beginnings. Other rituals of the occasion include visiting monasteries and stupas in traditional costumes, masked dances, and rituals to drive away negative forces.

Sonam Lhosar timeline

1200s
The Tales

King Boom Degon scriptures the word ‘Tamang’ in his genealogy.

1739
The Monarchs

A Tamang ruler named Ghale-Botya attacks Narabhupal Shah — a king in Nepal.

1742
The Wars

Prithvi Narayan Shah attacks the Tamangs in Temal.

1932
A Whole New World

Prime Minister Bhim Shumshere allows the name ‘Tamang’ after civil service and military roles.

Sonam Lhosar FAQs

When is Sonam Lhosar celebrated?

It is celebrated after harvesting the crops.

What is Sonam Lhosar?

Sonam Lochar marks the beginning of the Tamang New Year.

What is the Tamang New Year known as?

The New Year of the Tamangs of Nepal is known as Sonam Lhosar.

Sonam Lhosar Activities

  1. Visit a monastery

    Since praying is a part of the celebrations, this is the time you can connect with the lord by visiting a monastery. Even if you aren’t religious, monasteries are great places to search for peace.

  2. Stay with the elders

    You never know when someone will pass away. Use the traditions of the day positively and spend some time with the elders of the household.

  3. Eat and dance

    Enjoy the day to its fullest by eating all the traditional dishes and by dancing the night away with the people you love and cherish. Have fun this holiday and revel in the merriment.

5 Fun Facts About Nepal

  1. Nepal’s independence

    Nepal doesn’t celebrate Independence Day since it’s never been colonized.

  2. History of Buddhism

    Nepal is the birthplace of Lord Gautam Buddha.

  3. Groups in Nepal

    It has over 100 cultural groups.

  4. Languages in Nepal

    Over 123 languages are spoken in Nepal.

  5. Mountains in Nepal

    It has eight out of the 10 highest mountains in the world.

Why We Love Sonam Lhosar

  1. This is a cultural holiday

    The day is important to keep reviving the culture of the region and to ensure the Tamang history stays alive. It is important to commemorate this holiday.

  2. It’s a time of enjoyment

    The occasion is essential for all those who spend the entire year working and need some time off. It is the perfect occasion to let your hair down and relax.

  3. It brings people together

    The event brings people together since many individuals from outside the country use this opportunity to visit family members. It’s also a wonderful way to bring the community together as one.

Sonam Lhosar dates

YearDateDay
2022February 2Wednesday
2023January 22Sunday
2024February 10Saturday
2025January 30Thursday
2026February 18Wednesday

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