Vancouver’s Tibetans will celebrate Losar, their culture’s New Year, Feb. 8. This year, the Kagyu Kunkhyab Chuling Centre will celebrate Losar with a series of different traditions, including meditation sessions and special Protector Mahakala ceremonies to ring in the Tibetan New Year.
Lobsang Tenzin calls himself a dharma believer and teacher who’s immersed in Vancouver’s Tibetan culture. He says Losar is all about recognizing the opportunity to accept adversity and think positively.
“Losar is about cleansing yourself and dropping all your prejudices you have against other people. That’s a big one, you forgive everybody. It’s about forgiving all the people who have wronged you and spoke badly about you, or whatever it is,” says Tenzin.
Tibetan culture budding in Vancouver community
Losar is a celebration that’s traveled from China’s cultural landscape all the way to Canada.
According to Tenzin, Tibetan culture has a strong influence in Vancouver, although many people aren’t aware. The philosophies of Buddhism are encompassed by much of today’s Tibetan culture, regardless of the location.
“Everyone in Vancouver has a certain understanding of karma and interdependence,” says Tenzin. “The only enduring happiness is to truly know the joy of making others happy. We’re never happier than when we’re selflessly useful.”
Tenzin describes the Tibetan belief as a positive philosophy that discourages judgment: a factor that makes the culture within Vancouver close-knit.
“Buddha dharma is a growing philosophy; and not a religion based on faith, but based on logic. You’re allowed to debate, and you’re not allowed to swallow anything because you have to challenge it and defend,” says Tenzin.
He explains Vancouver’s Tibetan culture as multifaceted and encourages locals to maintain an open state of mind.
“We need to remember integration and the physical interests of people here: two concepts Westerners don’t always get right away,” says Tenzin. “Tibetans are often quiet because in Tibet there’s a high altitude and you can’t talk as much.”
Losar dishes: expansive as Tibetan culture
According to Tenzin, Losar dishes are expansive due to the culture’s accepting attitude and include both vegetables and meat.
“You often see momos, which are little dumplings. They’re not necessarily vegetarian. You eat what’s served,” says Tenzin. “You don’t turn your nose up when someone has gone to the trouble of making a feast for you. You are polite and there are no absolutes, except in your own intention because that’s the only thing you have one hundred per cent control over.”
Canada’s Tibetan history
The population of Tibetans within Canada is difficult to find. According to the Canada Tibet Committee, Canada has been home to the philosophy of Tibet for years.
According to the website, 1971 is the first time Tibetan refugees arrived in Canada. At the time, the settlement of these refugees called for Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia to accept an equal number of refugees.
Once an entity for only Tibetans, many Canadians have taken on the culture as their own.
“A lot of their culture doesn’t get translated because of language,” says Tenzin. “Everyone will eventually practice the Buddha Dharma found in the Tibetan culture by nature, because it’s the evolution of thought.”
Everyone is welcome to attend Losar (Feb. 6–8). Each day begins with a meditation session at 7:30 a.m. and a short Green Tara Sadhana practice at 8 a.m. The first Mahakala Puja starts at
9:30 a.m. and Tsok starts at 6 p.m.
For more information, visit www.kkc-kdol.org