The Buddhist New Year. Sagaalgan
In Buddhist tradition New Year is celebrated between late January and mid-March, usually at the first new spring moon of lunar calendar. The date of New Year is annually calculated from astrological tables, but because of existing differences in astrological calculus these dates may not coincide in different countries. Traditionally, on New Year's Eve, the most respected and revered lamas make astrological predictions for the next year.
Three days before the festival special religious ceremonies dedicated to dharmapala - ten deities-protectors - take place in Buddhist temples. The goddess Sri Davy (tib. Baldan Lhamo) receives the highest veneration - she is considered the patroness of Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. To receive the goddess's blessing it is recommended to stay awake all night until 6 in the morning, and attend the prayers in the temple or read mantras at home. All day and night solemn services - Hurals - are held in the temples. The ceremonial prayers end at 6 in the morning and the abbot wishes everyone a Happy New Year.
On the first day of the new year it is forbidden to pay visits. This day is spent in the family, and there has to be white food on the table - milk, sour cream, cottage cheese, butter. Visiting relatives and friends starts on the second day and may continue until the end of the month. This month, named the white month, is considered to be festive and the most opportune time for purification ceremonies.
A special tradition before the arrival of New Year is Gutor. Every family's home and life are set free from all useless and unnecessary things accumulated over the previous year. This is a special ceremony performed by an invited lama, in which all family members participate. At the end of a festive meal, the remaining food together with old clothes, coins, candles and a hadak (a special welcoming scarf) are put into a large bowl. A human figure made of dough and colored in red (torma) is placed there as well. Together this represents the "ransom" for making the evil and failures leave the house. Then, in the evening, people throw the bowl into the waste pit with the words "Get out!". After that, they quickly return home without looking back (if someone does this, according to their belief the evil may come back with that person).
During the first New Year's days, there is also the traditional launching of the "horses of good luck wind" - symbols of well-being. Images of these horses, blessed in the temple, are tied to trees or placed on the house roofs so that they would always wave in the wind. It is believed that this symbol provides powerful protection against poverty and disease, attracting and encouraging the support of gods, and representing wishes of health, happiness and prosperity in the new year for all living beings.