Nyinglo marks Bhutanese New Year
Nyinlo, winter solstice, is celebrated as the beginning of new year in Bhutan.
The day is celebrated on the seventh day of the eleventh month of the Bhutanese calendar. This year it fell on 2 January.
From the winter solstice, the days get longer with shorter nights or late sunset and early dawn. The day reminds the people of the lengthening days ahead.
The day is mostly celebrated by people living in the western districts of the country, like Thimphu, Punakha, Wangdue Phodrang, Paro and Haa.
According to an old age practice, on that day, children form groups and visit every household reciting lolay verses and wishing good luck for that house.
Lolay verse recited by the children is expected to bring good luck and fruitful year for different households.
In return, the house owner gives the children a gift that includes edible things like rice, meat, butter, eggs and nonedible things like money.
A day after Nyinlo, the children go for a picnic with the items that they collected by reciting Lolay.
Lolay can be translated as a good year.
Tshering, 23, said that Nyinlo is the best occasion celebrated with the family to invite New Year. He added that he was hoping for a successful year ahead.
According to scientific studies, winter solstice is the shortest day and longest night for the northern part of the earth. However, it is just the opposite in the southern hemisphere.
During the December solstice, the earth is positioned in its orbit so that the sun stays below the North Pole horizon.
Kuenzang Gyeltshen, a khenpo, said that Nyinlo basically means the return of sun and is a start of longer days.
He said that as per religious books, when the days become short it is called north movement (jangdro) as sun travel towards north (jang).
Similarly when the days become longer it is called south movement (lhodro) as sun returns slowly toward south (lho) from the king of the mountain (Rhi-Gyalpo Rhi).
He also said that during jangdro there is a huge distance between earth and sun which leads to shorter day with cold weather. Likewise, during lhodro, the sun and earth start to come closer making days longer and warmer.
The day is believed to be the most auspicious day of the year since the day marks the return of the sun.
Nyinlo is an ancient practice that is still followed today and the day is considered as a national holiday.