Tibetans Celebrate New Year by Driving Evil Spirits Off

  • Celebrated: Jan. 29 
  • Location: Lhasa

Tibetans like to start off the new calendar year with a fresh start. To this end, they celebrate the Driving-off-the-Evil-Spirits festival every 29th day of the last Tibetan Month. The biggest celebration takes place at the Potala Palace in Lhasa, with smaller celebrations taking place in monasteries throughout Tibet.

The festival is known as Guoduo in the Tibetan language, since that word means "driving out evil spirits." The Tibetans believe that driving evil spirits away prepares the way for a more auspicious new year that will bring good weather, great harvests and long life to all.

How the Day Is Celebrated

Lhasa residents begin the day with religious activities, including sacred dancing at the Potala Palace, the center of Tibetan Buddhist society, and formerly the home of the Dalai Lama. Tibetans will then go to Guru Square where they'll be given food to help drive off the evil spirits. Monasteries throughout the region also host activities, including dancing.

House Cleaning

The festival ends with Tibetans lighting fires and shouting to drive the bad spirits away. They'll leave their doors open so the evil spirits can get out quickly. They'll also give their homes a thorough cleaning as they begin the new year on a positive note.

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Hi, I'm Gavin Van Hinsbergh
I updated this article on April 17, 2014
See all my travel articles

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