Friday, 28 February 2014

Losar: Bhutanese New Year

Greetings and happy Losar to all!

Recently, BBC covered Chinese New Year, which is believed to be a month of the highest mass migration of people. About 1.3 billion people migrate annually for the New Year celebration in China. Bhutanese New Year may not be known to the world yet, it is a joyous occasion for us.

My dad hardly cooks and when he does, everybody would savour items he prepared. Losar is one of the occasions he does. The day would start with my dad waking earlier than mom for the first time in a year. By the time he wakes us, we would be greeted by pepper-scented porridge. There would be two pots of porridge ready-to-serve categorizing each for vegans and non-vegetarians.
Every member would dress up to their best and sit together forming a circle of about 3 m dia. Our uncle and aunt would break the lists of guests we expect with their porridge and of course, Bangchang (locally brewed soft wine). The talk at our first gathering for the day would center about what one plans to do for the day. My dad always had tentative programs while brothers normally opted for either Khuru (traditional dart) or archery. Girls would prefer shouting with their friends playing Kolokpa (game played with large seeds of some perennial vines).

Lunch would gather us again. No matter in what financial situation my dad happened to be, he would prefer lavish cuisines for the day. Pork, beef, fish and chicken if possible, would make one of the best days of the year. Unfortunately, everybody used to be filled with sight rather than amount.
My brothers and I would visit our neighbours with a plate of our day’s items. We just have to hand over a plate and literally, they would find ‘this is ours and what’s your’ inscribed over our brows; uncovered with our smiles. They would unload and fill the same plate with their items. Way back to home often used to be slower for us; we would inspect what is different and appealing in their offer.
The archery ground right below our home used to host many ardent players and some oldies who used to be the champions of the game. Those oldies would instruct the archer; vicariously enjoying an archer’s hits and lamenting his misjudgments. Some workaholic men would change their status to alcoholic on that day; often acting something unexpected.

The most interesting part of the day is the evening. All boys and girls would gather and start dancing in every house (one could say a traditional jam session of our village). Clumsiness after visiting two to three houses on that day never used to drag criticism or rather advice; be it from parents. It is a day in 365.
Young people would be joined by some oldies (ones they could walk and spare sleep). My dad used to be oldest active member of the group. His endless songs would always keep us busy and often endangering us of cramps. By midnight, we would have visited almost half of the village and received what every household has in store for us. Bangchang usually used to rule our night. We would continue till morning and would disperse with sore throat yet, filled with joy.

This Losar shall be different one. My dad is alone at home for some reason and his day will be never be same and so is ours. I will be missing him and his tireless efforts to make this day memorable one for all of us. I would like to join rest of my brothers and sisters in wishing him a joyous day. A happy celebration to all my village folks and let us pray that we will celebrate together in future with all beautiful traditions of ours!