Dorji Wangmo | Intern

Nyilo, or the Winter Solstice, is celebrated as the new year in the western—Sha and Wang—region of Bhutan.

In Paro and Haa, Lolay comes a day ahead of Lomba; in the Wang and Shar regions, it falls one day ahead of the Nyilo.

Nyilo, literally “the return of the sun”, is the celebration of the day on which the duration of sunlight time increases, signifying the start of longer days. Children, in groups, do the rounds of houses in the locality, reciting Lolay, which translates loosely to “good year”.

Lolay basically is an incantation of verses in prayers, and offer abundance of good wishes.


Oka Nor Gi Gang Chuu—Lolay, Lolay!

Barkheb Ju Gi Gang Chuu—Lolay, Lolay!

Tengtho Mi Gi Gang Chuu—Lolay, Lolay!

Chimtho Dar Gi Gang Chuu—Lolay, Lolay!

In English, the verse translates roughly to:

May the ground floor be filled with cattle—good year!

And middle floor be filled with wealth—good year!

May the top floor be filled with people—good year!

And the rooftop be filled with flags—good year!


On the Lolay day, children receive gifts for their prayers innocent and true

The verse reflects ancient Bhutanese society and its signs of prosperity. The incantation is also believed to ward off misfortunes on the people and society.

Typically, the host family bestows gifts and presents to the children who come to recite Lolay, which usually consist of butter, salt, rice, wheat, and some such items. The children then go for a picnic the following day.

The tradition of celebrating Lolay had almost disappeared. An effort was made recently to revive the age-old tradition.

In Changzamtog in Thimphu yesterday, a group of children were seen reciting Lolay.

Ugyen Wangchuk, 12, said, “This is my first time reciting Lolay and it is interesting.”

Sonam Dema, a 70-year-old woman, said, “When I was a kid, way back then, I would be wide awake with excitement on the eve of Lolay. We would memorize Lolay verses and be ready for the day.”

Reminiscing the days long gone by, Sonam Rinchen, 63, said, “The last time we celebrated Nyilo with Lolay was about 20 years ago. That was in Lobesa. It feels good to celebrate the new year this way again after a very long time.”

It is believed that the tradition of Lolay existed before the arrival of Zhabdrung in Bhutan.