Ny­ilo, a fes­tive for the peo­ple to cel­e­brate

Bhutan Times - - Home - Lhakpa Tsh­er­ing

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.

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