Bhutan - The Kingdom with Many New Year Celebrations
If you are a Bhutanese or residence living in Bhutan, you will be fascinated to witness several traditions of celebrating New Year in the tiny Kingdom. Bhutanese celebrate Losar more than once in a year. Losar means New Year (Lo = Year, Sar = New). Different regions in Bhutan celebrate new year at different times of the year.
New Year aka Losar (as known in Bhutan) is celebrated on the first day of the first month of the lunar calendar. Since the astrological calendar is the same, Bhutanese follow the same tradition. However, the dates have since been adjusted to suit local sensibilities.
Losar is traditionally greeted with archery tournaments and other games. The locals consume a huge amount of alcohol and drown themselves in the revelry of their traditional hard liquor known as ara. Bhutanese also visit monasteries and temples to offer prayers to invoke the guardian deities during the new year.
Chunipa Losar also called the 'traditional day of offering' falls on the first day of the 12th month of the Bhutanese calendar. On this day, representatives from all the regions in Bhutan provide ‘buelwa’ (Offerings) to Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in the 17th century at Punakha Dzong.
The offerings is to express devotion and loyalty. Since then, the auspicious day was observed as a traditional day of offering. It is in essence the real Bhutanese New Year, chosen by Zhabdrung himself as it comes right after the harvests of the year. In the olden days, Chunipa Losar was celebrated for 15 days and is very popular amongst the Sharshops - in the eastern part of Bhutan.
Dawa Dangpa Losar
This losar has been popular since the 1960s under the influence of the many Tibetans who came to Bhutan during the late 1950s. The Dangpa Losar falls from mid to late February. The New Year is known as Gyalpoi Losar.
Nyilo falls on the 17th day of the 11th Bhutanese calendar month. It is the new year for the people of Sha and Wang districts. Most of their celebrations are derived from Bonism, a religion that has its roots in ancient shamanistic rituals and animism. It is based on the solar calendar which is depended upon the position of the sun. It always coincides with the winter solstice and signifies the start of longer days.
Lomba is observed as the New Year by communities of Haa and Paro district valleys in Western Bhutan. It falls on the 29th day of the 9th lunar month in the Bhutanese calendar. The locals will celebrate Lomba for at least five days. During this special occasion, Bhutanese will make a special dumpling dish called ‘hontey’.
Lomba indicates the passing of the old year and the coming of the new year. Lomba is usually a family time filled with joy and display of prosperity to welcome a new prosperous year ahead. Lomba is also an opportunity for young people to have fun. On the evening of the 29th day of the lunar month, children go around the village shouting ‘Lolay, Lolay’. They sing Lolay Lolay until the owners come out and place a hontey in their baskets. Lo ley is a rhyme, which is the wish for a good New Year.
This year all the celebrations have taken a different approach due to the pandemic. Even the annual popular tsechus (masked dance festivals) were also performed closed door. Large public gatherings are restricted, pubs and nightclubs remain closed since the first case of COVID-19 was detected in Bhutan in March this year.
Currently, with the second nationwide lockdown in place, everyone is stuck at home and hopefully, would be celebrating the new year from home with their loved ones.
We would like to wish everyone a very Happy New Year! Enjoy the delicious food and drinks.