Since moving to the east coast, I have only recently been involved in a local sangha, or Buddhist community. Soon after beginning my journey along the Buddhist path four and a half years ago, I wanted to learn about and participate in Buddhist festivals. Although I have learned more about Buddhist festivals since then, I have participated in very few. But despite not really belonging to a community to celebrate with, this year I am trying to at least observe and acknowledge Buddhist festivals from various traditions.
For example, today is Losar, also known as Tibetan New Year. This is a time of year is very important to Buddhists in Tibet, where the effects of any action (good or bad) is said to be multiplied 100,000 times. This belief means that prayer and spiritual practice become even more important than usual, and therefore play a central role in Losar activities. From what I've read there are also many different festivals during Losar, some of which date back to the pre-Buddhist 'Bon' religion. Tibetans also watch and participate in numerous folk activities, such as wrestling, horse racing, and Tibetan drama (read more here and here).
Being thousands of miles from what is no doubt a vibrant and amazing event, I decided to commemorate this Losar by hanging Tibetan prayer flags. These colorful flags inscribed with blessings and prayers are traditionally attached to the tops of poles, where the wind is believed to carry blessings on the flags promoting peace, strength, compassion, and wisdom to sentient beings far and wide. Blessings continue to be released from the flags as they decay and are torn apart by the wind. (Read more from Wikipedia)
Tibetan prayer flags are placed on poles and in doorways during auspicious and celebratory days, such as birthdays and festivals. Tibetan prayer flags are also traditionally replaced during Losar with new ones, another reason for me to hang ours in the doorway of our apartment! I hope you enjoy the photo I've added below.
Losar Tashi Delek! May all beings be happy!