Tsampa Claus - holiday in zanskarien style

One more week has just gone by. This week was fulfilled with an abundance of events. Oh yeah...it was Christmas! And locals have started to celebrate their New Year, or Losar, as well. Losar means a one-week drollery and it is, according to yesterday`s show, a really very difficult affair. But let`s start from the beginning.

Pupils of our school were required, in the scope of English lessons, to prepare a gift for one of their schoolmates who they had drawn before. Older pupils were preparing the gifts very carefully, they even wrapped them without help, while the small ones must have been helped a little bit. So we could wait for small Jesus baby. Our school was honestly decorated by snowflakes made from paper. Some flakes were created by children as well, the rest was prepared by me. Thanks to this, the classes are now lovely colourful. I made a christmas tree from a biscuit cartoon so that we had a place for our christmas gifts. And how were our gifts? We created the gifts mutually and from the nothing we had found here, we succeeded in collecting quite interesting trifles. Tibetian teachers and our school caretaker had the biggest joy from a photo collage where their own figures dominated on a ground of Kargyak` s school. To complete the christmas atmosphere a little bit more, I made also one kind of Bara` s sweets, or coconut-sweetened milk-almond marbles [those who were in Kargyak during summer surely know...], they were delicious! Christmas Eve arrived and gift giving with it. The celebration was really festive and children enjoyed it pretty much. Then, they renamed our small Jesus baby to Tsampa Claus and we could start celebrating. Actually, for afternoon, we prepared a celebration for the whole village. We treated every visitor to a sweet rice, as a symbol of festive delicacy, and to a cup of tea. Some music or a movie were playing in the school rooms, that` s why adults as well as children enjoyed it really marvelously. We were dancing, singing and drinking nearly until morning-surely at least until midnight. The atmosphere was pretty agreeable and warm. I perceived very much how locals made a big effort so that they really enjoy our festive day and so that they feel well. It was really lovely generosity from their part.

Yesterday started local feast Losar. The whole Zanskar has the same determined term for this celebration. Families visit each other and spend their time together by eating and drinking until morning. Women don` t forget to knit socks or caps and men usually spin yack` s yarn. To complete this atmosphere, there are children and toddling babies screaming everywhere so you really can` t get bored! Typical festive dish is tsampa [roast, grindt barley] which is formed into a loaf and on the top of this heap, there is proudly a bit of yack` s butter as a proof of a festive and special event. This tsampa figure is piece after piece soaked into a dissolved butter [into which I could occasionally sprinkle also a bit of sugar so that I would be able to swallow it]. Together with tsampa, there was also some yack meat on the plate. Locals as well as bouddhists know how to find some excuse or exception for meat eating. But to defend them I have to add that this is required by a really very rough, high mountain lifestyle. In addition to the traditional sweet and salty tea, visitors are also treated to a classical chang and arak. This rirual takes place by such a convincing way that lady of the house sits down in front of the host and as soon as he drinks a little bit, the lady pits uncompromisingly so that the host hasn`t a smallest chance to protest. Just if he wanted to pit more, but there is no space for such a demand. Finally, the respected host occurs fully left to mercy or rather to merciless of lady of the house. To complete the whole menu, the tea is served together with kura that is a fried, zigzag stick, pretty similar to our chips- once you try them, never you finish unless the sack vanishes... So we are now in the middle of a big one-week celebration which we will go celebrate to some other villages as well. Tomorrow morning, we all teachers set out on a journey in the direction of the village Cha. It should be located near to the monastery of Phuktal where we`d like to go as well. In short, it`s hollidayyyy!

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