Each year, the Tibetan Nuns Project sells a wall calendar through our online store. Our 2021 Tibetan Nuns Project calendar is available for order now.
The Tibetan Calendar vs. the Gregorian Calendar
The Tibetan calendar is thousands of years old and is different from the Gregorian calendar, which is the international standard used almost everywhere in the world for civil purposes. The Gregorian calendar modified the earlier Julian calendar, reducing the average year from 365.25 days to 365.2425 days and spacing leap years.
While the Gregorian calendar is a purely solar calendar, the Tibetan calendar (Tibetan: ལོ་ཐོ, Wylie: lo-tho) is a lunisolar calendar. This means that the Tibetan year is composed of either 12 or 13 lunar months, each beginning and ending with a new moon. A thirteenth month is added every two or three years so that an average Tibetan year is equal to the solar year.
In the traditional Tibetan calendar, each year is associated with an animal, an element, and a number. January 1st through February 11th, 2021 are the last weeks of the Tibetan year 2147.
Tibetan New Year or Losar falls on February 12th, 2021. The year of the Iron Ox, 2148, begins on this day. The year of the Water Tiger, 2149, begins on March 3, 2022.
The animals in the Tibetan calendar are somewhat similar to those in the Chinese zodiac and are in the following order: Mouse, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Bird, Dog, and Boar. The five elements are in this order: Wood, Fire, Earth, Iron, and Water.
Tibetan New Year vs. Chinese New Year
This year, 2021, Tibetan New Year and Chinese New Year fall on the same date, February 12th. However, this is not always the case.
The Tibetan calendar follows three systems: solar day for a day, lunar day for a month, and zodiacal day for a year. The Chinese system of calendar follows the solar day system.
The dates for a new year in the Tibetan astrological system is cast according to the lunar calendar system, which has 371 days in a year as opposed to the solar calendar system which has 365 days in a year.
These few extra days in a lunar system accumulate to an extra month in a period of three years and it is thus balanced as a Da-Shol in the Tibetan astrological calendar system.
The Story of the Tibetan Nuns Project Calendar
The Tibetan Nuns Project calendar was started over 20 years ago as a fundraising and friend-raising tool to help support hundreds of Tibetan Buddhist nuns at nunneries in northern India.
The astrologers at the Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute in Dharamsala (also known as Men-Tsee-Khang) supply us with the dates for the year’s Tibetan Buddhist holidays and holy days. It should be noted that the timings of the solstices and equinoxes in the calendar are based on north-eastern India where the nuns live so they may be slightly different from where you are.
The Tibetan Nuns Project calendar uses photographs taken by the nuns themselves. These photographs provide an intimate insight into the daily lives and religious and cultural practices of the nuns.
Each summer, the nunneries that we support send a selection of photos for possible inclusion in the next year’s calendar. Once all the photos are gathered together a final selection is made. We try to balance the images, choosing at least one photograph from each nunnery and selecting photographs that are windows into the nuns’ lives.
Each photo is captioned and paired with inspirational quotations from renowned Tibetan Buddhist teachers, such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and others.
“It’s really exciting to open up emails from India and see the photos sent by the nunneries for possible inclusion in the calendar,” says Lisa Farmer, Executive Director of the Tibetan Nuns Project.
The proceeds from the sale of the Tibetan Nuns Project calendar are used to support over 700 Tibetan Buddhist nuns and seven nunneries in India. The calendar cost $12 plus shipping and is 6.5″ x 7″.
Thank you for buying our 2021 Tibetan Nuns Project calendar and helping the nuns!