World Civilizations: Explore Tibetan Culture in the Hilltowns

Come Explore Tibetan Culture Near the Tibetan New Year
through Sand Mandalas, Prayer Flags and Folk Tales

ccl by ktpuppThe Tibetan New Year is known as Losar and is one of Tibet’s most celebrated holidays. This year Losar begins on February 7th and lasts for fifteen days.


On Friday, February 1st, 2008, (Postponed to Sunday 02/03 @ 10am) Hilltown Families will be co-sponsoring with the Children’s Art Museum an opportunity for kids to discover more about Tibetan culture by making sand mandalas and prayer flags. Tibetan folktales will also be shared. This class will be held at the Children’s Art Museum (same building as the Trolley Museum) in Shelburne Falls, MA, from 4pm-6:30pm. All ages are welcomed. Pre-registration is required ($). Click here to reserve your spot, or call 413.625.2030.


“The [New Year] festival is said to have begun when an old woman named Belma introduced the measurement of time based on the phases of the moon. This festival took place during the flowering of the apricot trees of the Lhokha Yarla Shampo region in autumn, and it may have been the first celebration of what has become the traditional farmers’ festival. It was during this period that the arts of cultivation, irrigation, refining iron from ore and building bridges were first introduced in Tibet. The ceremonies which were instituted to celebrate these new capabilities can be recognized as precursors of the Losar festival. Later when the rudiments of astrology, based on the five elements, were introduced in Tibet, this farmer’s festival became what we now call the Losar or New Year’s festival.*


Sand Mandalas are an ancient Tibetan art form that were used to teach compassion, environmental relations and impermanency. With Tibet being one of the last ancient civilizations, teaching kids the history behind this ancient art form can supplement their global awareness of world civilizations and cultures. Making a sand mandala joins the art and history together into a creative and tactile experience.

The video above shows a close-up look at the application of sand to a Chenrezig the Buddha of Compassion Mandala by Tibetan monks, accompanied with Tibetan chanting. The chanting in this video captured my daughter’s (age 5) attention immediately, which led to an interesting conversation about sand mandalas and the impermanence of things. Her first inclination was to figure out how to make it permanent. Tape ended up being her suggested solution.

Book Suggestions:



ccl phitarOn the Tibetan New Year, it is tradition to take down old prayer flags and to replace them with new ones. Making prayer flags with your kids is an opportunity to teach them about other cultures and comparative religions. Because Tibetan prayer flags utilize color and animal symbolism along with positive intentions, parents can take the time to discuss with their kids the meaning of these symbols before making their flags.

Suite 101 has a post on how to make Tibetan Prayer Flags For Kids, and Legally Kidnapped has a post on Tibetan Prayer Flags: Uses and Meanings.





One Comment on “World Civilizations: Explore Tibetan Culture in the Hilltowns

  1. That’s a great list Sienna, as you know this is an area of interest for me as ZOe is half Tibetan….here are a few more of our favs

    All The Way to Lhasa: A Tale from Tibet (Hardcover)
    by Barbara Helen Berger

    Our Journey from Tibet (Hardcover)
    by Laurie Dolphin (Author)

    The Dalai Lama: Foreword by His Holiness… by Demi

    Each Breath a Smile by Sister Susan

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