Author: Sir Sambel
Paddar is a land of myriad festivals held all across the different parts of the valley. There is hardly any place in Paddar which is not touched by the joys and hues of a festival. Losar celebration can be regarded as the most elaborated and convoluted of different social and religious events in all Buddhist residing villages of the valley. Although Losar is very popular in Ladakh, Zanskar, Pangi and Lahul Spiti of Himachal Pardesh and Tibet but the charm of Losar is different and unique in Paddar.
Each and everybody, men, women and children make an active participation during the celebrations. The rites and rituals that are followed and performed during the celebrations is an interesting amalgamation of social and religious Buddhist practices to make the local deities happy. Prayers and rituals are performed on this occasion as per ancient norms and guidelines.
Origin of the Word Losar
The word Losar is basically a Tibetan word comprised of two words ‘Lo’ and ‘Sar’. Lo means year and Sar means new. Losar is considered to be the most important festival in all the Buddhist belonging villages of Paddar valley. It is an important social and religious celebration. It is a week-long traditional festival which begins with the illumination of religious places (Gompas) and residential places. Traditionally the festival is celebrated to mark the beginning of New Year. ‘Losar’ falls every year in the month of December- January.
Losar festival in Paddar
It is celebrated in almost every village of Paddar valley amidst extensive pomp and gaiety to welcome the New Year with a special fervour. On this day local people are seen dressed up in finest traditional clothes. They start the festival by visiting monasteries with offerings before their deities, pray for the well-being of their relatives and wish each other.
During the Losar festival a blend of cultural events, traditional performances and various ancient rituals are performed which make the festival more tempting and artistic. There are blaring musical instruments accompanied by dancing and celebrations. Traditional dishes are prepared and served among relatives. Houses are decorated with good luck signs and colourful prayer flags for peace and harmony are hoisted in important religious place like monasteries and house tops to welcome the New Year.
Changes in LOSAR with time.
But the trend of celebrations is changing day by day. With the passage of time the week long celebrations of Losar has now been reduced to a day. Exhibition of our cultural heritage through very ancient rituals and traditional performances are now becoming extinct. Participation of people in the celebrations is decreasing nowadays. The value and importance of the festival Losar in Paddar valley has now remained only as a source of entertainment and enjoyment. The celebration of Losar which was once the celebration of whole community, engagement of all men, women and children, exchange of best wishes among the village has now reduced to few families and relatives. In fact the celebration of the festival has now become a thing of past.
With the advent of television, mobile phones and internet services in Paddar in the past decade, a drastic change in the celebration of Losar has crept in the society which is not a good sign. Use of other languages instead of our own in our houses and community, focusing our mind on other culture by watching TV shows, paying attention more on fantasies has now changed and mind-set of our generations.
All these changes with the advent of modernization have helped us all to develop educationally and financially but on the other hand have degraded us morally, ethically and traditionally. We all should focus on the preservation and promotion of our cultural identity. Otherwise in the near future practices like celebration of Losar and other ancient rituals which we got from our forefathers will just remain in our stories.
Promotion and way forward
There are some positive signs in the preservation and promotion of our cultural heritage also. Gandhari village which I think is educationally the most backward among other Buddhist belonging villages is the best example where the villagers both men and women are still seen in their traditional attires at every occasion. It is indeed a good sign. Thanks to the people of Gandhari valley who being cut off from the rest of Paddar valley have still kept their identity intact. Thanks also to the APBSWA, the Buddhist Student Association in Jammu for extending its hands in the promotion of Losar festival during past few years. APBSWA is doing a remarkable job in this regard by providing platform to our young artists to exhibit our culture through cultural songs and dances.
Inauguration of first ever Annual Cultural Festival by his Holyness the 12th Gyalwang Drukpa on 22nd of July, 2018 was a revolutionary step towards cultural promotion and preservation. The said cultural festival has revolutionized the whole society. People are now understanding the value of our cultural heritage.
Poets and Lyricists like Master Des Raj and Nomo Padma Tsomo have started composing poems and songs in Paddri language. Artists like Nomo Tsering Tolma, Nomo Tsewang Palmo, Nomo Tashi Dorjee and Nomo Padma Tsomo are coming forward in promoting our culture. First ever musical album ‘Paddar Ldumra” released on the occasion of first annual Paddar Cultural Festival by Himalayan Buddhist Cultural Society Gulabgarh Paddar and live performances by our young artists like Tashi Rock, Tsering Tolma and Tsewang Palmo on international level high voltage stage at Naro Festival Ladakh, India, are some of the live examples which have given new wings to our culture to flourish and new trajectory to our culture to develop. Each and every one of us should take responsibility and play an active part in the cultural transformation. Young and educated class of the society should come forward and extend their hands in transforming the society towards cultural preservation.