Buddhist New Year has many names – White Month, Tsagan Sar, Sagalgaan, Sagaalgan – and this is not a complete list. The holiday has so many names due to the fact that it is celebrated by different nations and the pronunciation depends on the region in which it is celebrated:
- Inner Mongolia
- Altai Republic
- The Republic of Buryatia
- Transbaikal region
- Irkutsk region
- Republic of Kalmykia
- The Republic of Sakha (Yakutia)
- Tyva Republic
- The Republic of Khakassia
Unlike the Russian New Year, Sagaalgan is not a secular, but a religious holiday. Even the number of this significant event is different every year and is tied to the phase of the moon. New Year’s Day falls on the first lunar day of the spring month, and it depends on this what date the White month will come.
Dates Sagaalgana for the coming years:
For Buddhists, the New Year symbolizes life from a new leaf – with its occurrence, it is not only nature that is being renewed. By the arrival of this holiday, people purify their souls, clean the houses, renew clothes.
The celebration of the White month can be divided into three stages:
- Eve Sagaalgana;
- The first day of the new cycle is the meeting of the New Year;
- The remaining month.
Preparing for Tsagan Sar, what they are doing on the eve of the holiday
Since Tsagan Sar is the most significant and large-scale holiday, preparation for it begins long before its beginning. In all yurts, general cleaning is taking place, old and broken things are ruthlessly and happily thrown away, getting rid of them means parting with failures and ailments. In each yard, the owner of the house updates sleds for horses, the hostesses are busy sewing beautiful clothes for the holiday.
Three days before Sagagal, it is customary to visit datsans (Buddhist monasteries) in which chorals are held (prayers, services) for the purification of the soul. The symbol of purification is fire, in the courtyards of the monasteries they hold the rite of the sacred fire. Buddhist believers gather around a wooden pyramid-shaped structure – Dugzhub or Dugzhub and pray for the cleansing of the soul from all that is bad and dirty. In some regions, throwing pieces of cloth and pieces of dough into the fire is part of the ritual. With these objects, the parishioners at home wipe themselves and their family, symbolically washing away sins, and during the chorale they throw them into Dugzhub so that all the bad will disappear without a trace. However, in other regions, this is considered blasphemy. This is explained by the fact that the flame of Dugzhuba is sacred, and throwing garbage into it is sin and disrespect.
It is customary to celebrate the last day before the New Year with your family. Cleaning on this day is prohibited. It is important to update the decorations on the altar, light a lamp. In the evening, having gathered around the table, it is customary to tea, with the first cup of tea being presented to the deity and the fire, then to the household. Eve Tsagan Sar is considered lean – you can not eat meat and drink alcohol. You need to meet the renewed year in a pure, enlightened mind and body.
All dress festively, neatly, costumes are fastened with all buttons, according to custom – men wear hats. A rich table is laid, teeming with preferably white. Be sure to present the dishes of lamb meat, dairy products.
The biggest night
The night of the first lunar day is the last hours of the year. According to the Buddhist rules, Sagaalgan comes at dawn. The most important thing is not to fall asleep, or to wake up a couple of hours before the beginning of the White month. It is believed that the Buddhist deity Lhamo at these moments appears in houses and distributes luck and happiness for the whole coming year, but only to those who meet him. Many Buddhists spend this night in datsans.
How is the first day of the White month
On the first lunar day, you can only have fun and enjoy the arrival of Tsagan Sarah. Compulsory and paramount is to visit the most revered family members – parents and other eldest relatives of the family. There is a belief – what kind of person first goes into the house, and this will be the year – happy or unhappy. On this day, the owners can not be caught at home, so the order of visits is sometimes agreed in advance.
Congratulating on the White month, people exchange gifts. Some gifts are symbolic. For example, bortsoki – dough figures have their own meaning, depending on what the figure personifies.
Women are given handkerchiefs or tea, men are traditionally presented with khadak – a cut of white, blue or yellow fabric. You can give sweet gifts, treats and even money. It is considered quite in the order of things to give a child some sweets instead of sweets.
New Year’s month
Buddhists celebrate the New Year for a month. This tradition is rooted in the past, by the time when guests could only be reached on horseback, and the distances were quite large. From this distribution of congratulations stretched for a whole month.
There are different opinions about alcohol consumption on this holiday. Some believe that it is absolutely impossible to drink, as it is a sin. In fact, the measure is just important. Previously, at the holidays they poured only those who have reached the age of fifty, raised children, and acquired a household. Now this is easier.
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