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UPDATED: February 25, 2009
Tibetans Celebrate 50th New Year after Democratic Reform
Tibetans across China are celebrating the 50th Tibetan new year after the Democratic Reform with their old traditions

Lamas perform a traditional Buddhist dance at the Lama Temple in Beijing Tuesday, as part of the celebrations for the Tibetan New Year, which falls on Febuary 25. (China.org.cn) 

Like the 22-year-old Tibetan herdsman Tashi, Tibetans across China are celebrating the 50th Tibetan new year after the Democratic Reform with their old traditions.

Tashi arrived in Lhasa two days ahead of the new year, which starts on February 25 this year, for the annual Lamaism service called Vajra Dance in Tsurpu Monastery.

"I came here on behalf of my whole family with nine family members," Tashi said. He drove a motorcycle for two hours from the grasslands in Damxung, 70 kilometers away from Lhasa.

"My parents told me that I will have a lucky year if I watch the Vajra Dance at the beginning of a year," he said.

Like many others, Tashi consecrated hada, food and 300 yuan (about $44) of donation in front of the Buddha figures.

His family prepared a whole cattle for the new year banquet. They bought clothes and a cellphone as new year gifts for Tashi. "I shot pictures of the dance with the cellphone. I will show them to my family," he said.

Before the Vajra Dance, all the lamas of the monastery chanted the sutra for seven days, praying for a favorable year for the people, said the 40-year-old Dradul, head of the monastery.

"From the 81-year-old experienced chanter to the young lamas, all of us have devoted to the chanting," he said.

Local residents around the monastery set fires to drive away evils and they also enjoyed fireworks in the sky.

"I can only feel the real Tibetan new year when I am back in Tibet," said 70-year-old Shago Khamtrul Yeshe Paldan, who returned to China in 1994 after 28 years in Swiss as a "refugee", being a paper maker, electric worker and nurse successively.

This year is an "earth ox" year in the Tibetan calendar, the 15th new year since he returned home. Except the traditional Tibetan paintings, he also placed bottles of wine in his living room.

On the new year eve, Tibetans have the tradition to watch a TV gala and eat a special food named Gutu, steamed stuffed bun.

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