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Tibetans ring in Losar New Year with song and dance

Losar is the name for the Tibetan New Year and one of the most important festivals for the Tibetan people. This year, it coincides with the Chinese Spring Festival.

The celebrations in Xiaobawang village kicked off early in the morning with Guozhuang – a form of circle dancing. Male and female dancers formed half circles, and take turns to sing as if in a musical dialogue, without the accompaniment of any musical instrument.

Xiaobawang village lies over 2,000 meters above sea level, in a Gyarong Tibetan region called Danba in Sichuan’s Garze prefecture. Gyarong is a branch of the Tibetan ethnicity with their own unique language, different from those of other Tibetan tribal branches.

Dances are laid out throughout the day at a rigid timetable, per religious ritual. For example, Guozhuang can’t be performed after noon. And evenings are usually reserved for the youngsters. But even as night falls and teenagers take over the courtyard, older people stubbornly refuse to go home, too excited to leave a grand celebratory occasion.

They look on, dressed to their nines: Men in their sheep wool gowns with long, wide sleeves, women in colorful pleated skirts, which are usually reserved for the most special occasions. Their heads covered in delicately embroidered cloths, decorated with corals, gold and silver, all representing good fortune.

But Losar for the Tibetans isn’t just about showing off their musical talents. On any special occasion, they gather to pay their respect to the gods, praying for a good year ahead, not just for their own families, but everyone in the world.