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Tibetans celebrate start of their 'earth ox' year

TIBETANS across China are celebrating the 50th Tibetan New Year after the Democratic Reform.

Tibetan herdsman Tashi arrived in Lhasa three days ago to watch yesterday's Vajra Dance at the Tsurpu Monastery which marked the start of the new year.

The 22-year-old rode a motorcycle for two hours from Damxung, 70 kilometers from Lhasa, the regional capital.

"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, a white silk scarf considered as a blessing, food and a 300-yuan (US$44) donation in front of the Buddha figures.

His family prepared food for the new year banquet and bought him clothes and a cellphone as new year gifts. "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 sutra for seven days, praying for a favorable year, said 40-year-old Dradul, head of the monastery. "From the 81-year-old experienced chanter to the young lamas, all of us have devoted ourselves to the chanting," he said.

Local residents around the monastery lit fires and set off fireworks to drive away evil spirits.

"I can only feel the real Tibetan New Year when I am back in Tibet," said Shago Khamtrul Yeshe Paldan, 70, who returned to China in 1994 after 28 years in Switzerland.

This year is an "earth ox" year in the Tibetan calendar, the 15th new year since he returned home.

On new year's eve, Tibetans eat gutu, a steamed stuffed bun.

One woman who had been busy cooking was Tsering Drolma, a 74-year-old woman who married a man from southwest China's Chongqing Municipality in the 1950s.

"We celebrate both the Spring Festival and the Tibetan New Year each year," she said. "We eat gutu to celebrate Tibetan New Year together and my son-in-law comes to make jiaozi for us during the Spring Festival."

As the Spring Festival and the Tibetan New Year are close to each other, stores had prepared abundant goods for both, said a salesman in a market in Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Deqen, Yunnan Province.

Tibetans were also celebrating in Beijing and Shanghai.


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