In a rare fashion and much with great pomp and show, the formerly resettled Bhutanese Gurung families in Pittsburgh-Pennsylvania, Saint Paul-Minnesota, Nashville-Tennessee celebrated Tamu Losar on January 2 and January 3, 2016 respectively.
This is observed ushering in the new Gurungs’ calendar. The literary meaning of Losar comes from two parts of a word, Lo means Year and sar means New, the new year that is in parallel with the English Calendar. The Tamu Losar marks the beginning of the Tamu Sambat or Gurung Calendar Year. Interestingly, according to the Tamu (Gurung) calendar, it is their 2599th year of Losar. The Gurung people divide their years into 12 cycles, with a special name of one of the 12 animals for each year. The day of Tamu Losar indicates the end of winter and start of Spring season, which is another reason to fill the joy in the community.
The celebration was held at a party hall in Antioch, Tennessee with active initiation of Bhakta Gurung and Padam Gurung from the community. Gurung women volunteers groomed in their traditional attires were engaged in welcoming guests, serving foods, and exchanging New Year greetings.
R N Bista, one of the seniors in the community extended the greetings and best wishes of the New Year 2016 in the Losar. He stressed that it was the duty of one and all to preserve and give continuity to each of the major festivals irrespective of all faiths and worships. He reiterated that doing this from time to time, would pave the way for younger generation to easily adopt and live with social norms, values and an art of living through the guidelines of each origin, religion and culture.
Jitu Basnet,Bhutanese sportsman and soccer player, informed that there is a sizable chunk of thriving youths in the community inclined to alcohol and tobacco abuse on daily basis. He expressed concern on it as it can jeopardize the community health as a whole and requested all to play a role to timely manner to educate youths beginning from home.
The organizer informed BNS that the celebration began at 11am with the presentation of songs and dances from the local artists. Large number of people followed by Bhutanese artists, from around the Nashville and the adjoining states attended the event. The function initiated a trend to honor seniors and socially active community members. Few seniors and volunteers were honored with shawls.
Umesh Magar from Tennessee and Agom Gurung from Georgia refreshed the audience with jokes and comedies. The celebration concluded with the grooving and swaying crowd on the floor with some solo folk songs by Binod Gurung from Georgia.
The Gurung community of Pittsburgh celebrated the Tamu Losar, 2016 (the year of the monkey) on Saturday, the 2nd of January.
The day started with a special ceremony and prayers by the lamas Bhim Gurung (Namgyal Lama), and Lal Bahadur Gurung (Sonam Lama) for eliminating bad fortune and evils of the past year and wishing for a prosperous new year. It then followed by wang (Blessings) offering by the lamas. Various musical shows and dances were performed.
Losar celebration is characterized by the get-together of all family members of all generations to exchange love and good wishes. On the occasion, many men were attired with Bhangra, white cloth shirt-like apparel tied across the chest and open like a bag at the back (for carrying things). The Gurung women, both children and adolescents were seen wearing Ghalek (blouses).
Usually, Losar celebration by the Gurungs in Pittsburgh lacked space to organize in the past. Fortunately, the management of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Brentwood, PA, was very kind this time to avail the space to observe the event. The Church has a big area for kitchen and dining where over 400 individuals were served with cultural foods on the day.
Speaking to BNS, one of the organizers, Mr.Chitra Gurung told that the number of attendees increased this year way higher than previous years. He thinks that it is because of the location, which is closer to their homes and a better space. The celebration was filled with some live musical performances, and dances, in Nepali, and in Gurung songs. A group of Dancers also performed a dance in Dzongkha (Bhutanese Official Language), which was emblematic and unique in its own. Some attendees expressed nostalgia in watching the dance.
Meanwhile, President of Pittsburgh based Gurung Community, Mr. Laxman Gurung informed BNS that the history, culture, tradition, language, dress and religion are the substance of ethnicity: the grand Tamu Losar – 2016 celebration on January 2, 2016 in Pittsbrugh exhibits our community’s strong solidarity and respect for the ethnic cultural heritage. We, are not only committed to preserve, develop and cherish our cultural identity; we also share common moral responsibility, inculcating this unique cultural norms and values to the upcoming younger generation and gradually passing it down to them.
“This Losar was comparatively a better and more successful than the ones of the past years, and we’ll strive to make it better and bigger in the coming years passing on the cultural values to our forthcoming generation,”Laxman added.
Pittsburgh is a home of approximately one hundred Gurung families. Some of them are resettled directly and some of them came as secondary migrants in the course of uniting with their families and relatives. Many Gurungs’ preference to live in Pittsburgh is due to the topography of the land, as Pittsburgh is hilly, partly like Bhutan, and the friendliness of the people.
The Druk Buddhist Society of Minnesota organized ‘Tamu Pra Losar‘ on Saturday January 2, 2016 at Como Park Senior High School in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
The event began with the chief guest Rachele King (the Director of Refugee Program Minnesota) lighting the butter lamp on the stage. Chimi Wangchuk, the president of Druk Buddhist Society of Minnesota and Pamphamaya Gurung, one of the senior women of the community received the chief guest and the special guests.
Letter from the Mayor of Saint Paul, Christopher Coleman was read in the inaugural session of the event. The program included various talented artists from South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Georgia, Maryland and Minnesota performing cultural dances, songs to entertain a crowd of around 1100 people.
Roshan Gurung, a popular Nepali singer’s live performance was of different taste to the listeners. Birano tyo thauma…, Resammaiko paccheuri…., Ilam le samjhayo…. brought many people on the stage for dance. Krishna Tamu’s debut album-“Iinicio-musical Journey” was officially launched by Roshan Gurung. Artists like, Bhim Gurung, Niraj Ale, Yogen Chhetri, Kishor Biswa and Ram Gurung performed live in the function.
It is announcement that DesMoines, Iowa is hosting Tamu Lhosar amidst a grand function next year.
Rom Bista from Tennessee, Ashok Gurung from Pittsburgh and Thakur Kharel from Minnesota
contributed to this report.