Nyilo, a festive for the people to celebrate
The nation will celebrate Nyilo (a good year) to mark the New Year on 2 January coinciding with the winter solstice which falls on the 15th day of the 11th month in the Bhutanese calendar.
The day celebrated as a new year is an old age traditional practiced in the western Dzongkhags of Wangduephodrang, Punakha, Thimphu, Haa and Paro.
The Nyilo festival holiday is marked by ritual feasting and family gatherings, as well as offerings of thanksgiving and for an auspicious year to come.
Nyilo also reinforced communal ties and hierarchical social relationships. People living in other Dzongkhags also return home for Nyilo festival to be with their families. It is time for fine dining and meetings with members of family who have been away from home.
The day is a special time when all the families gather and renew their ties with friends, family, and the wider community, celebrating the cultural traditions of Bhutan and hoping for an auspicious New Year together.
Nyilo celebrations include a traditional morning meal, thupe (stew) and grand meals which is timed to coincide with the rising of the sun, as well as a midday meal and afternoon snack.
In the villages, a few Lolay group is expected. The children will get into groups and carry out the Lolay procession which basically wishes the best for the house and family. The children will go from house to house and recite ancient verses of Lolay.
The family gift them in kind of necessary food essentials such as butter, salt, rice, wheat and cash. It is believed that the collection becomes the resource for the festive for the actual Nyilo in the next day.
It is also believed that the children should be in odd numbers when visiting homes, as even even number bring bad luck. The Lolay procession ensures good health, wealthy and each member of the community is expected to fulfil their wishes.
In the urban areas, families put on their finest clothes and their families mix around for the picnic as part of the celebration revelling in their packed lunches.
Archery and Khuru (dart) game is played on the day. The traditional archery has been historically prominent in Bhutanese religion, ritual, and recreation, and enjoys modern popularity.
The meals on the Nyilo and its preparation, presentation, consumption, and symbolic meaning are highly important tradi- tional rituals that serve as Bhutanese identity and culture.
Some of the unique traditions that made Nyilo special for past generations no longer hold the same meaning. However, it is still a holiday of feasting, singing, dancing, archery, and offerings.
According to the Buddhist astrology, Nyilo is the first day of winter and the shortest day after which the days start getting linger until the summer solstice.