Nima Wangdi

Female ox and female rooster.  Sounds odd?

The gender of animals in Bhutanese astrology cannot be changed even if you think it is strange. The ox and rooster will be female, if not biologically.

The interpretation is different and should not be taken literally, according to those who know the reason behind using gender in specifying the sex of Ox and Rooster in the lunar or local calendar.

The year of the Female Ox has caused much confusion to those who know a bull or ox is a male animal even if we do not use the default gender for animals.

However, according to our astrology, the Ox in the 12 years represented by animal signs would always be a female. The same applies to the rooster. This is because the ox and rooster falls in the female cyclic animals, according to astrologer Rinchen Wangdi who is also a lecturer with the Paro College of Education.

Eight years from now we will welcome the Female Rooster Year.

Many were confused and some even made fun of the gender of the ox, the new year, Female Iron Ox Year,  which will begin from February 12.

Buddhist scholar and founder of Loden Foundation, Karma Phuntsho (PhD) explains that the male and female in our calendar are rendering of the Chinese Yin and Yang qualities.

Rat, tiger, dragon, horse, monkey and dog are considered male because they have the masculine yang quality, he said. Rests of the animals are considered to possess female Yin qualities. The tradition of 12 male and female zodiac animals and five elements originated in Chinese astrology, which we call Jungtsi, according to Karma Phuntsho (PhD).

He said the oxymoronic term “female ox” is a problem of cultural translation. “In Dzongkha, the term Lang refers to an ox but in Choekey, it does not necessarily refer to an ox. The term is gender neutral,” he explained.

Karma Phuntsho (PhD) said in current English, there is no common gender neutral term, which can be used to refer to both cow and ox. Thus, we have the problem of translating Mo Lang.  He said the best perhaps is to render it as Female cow year or as Feminine Ox Year.

“This is a good example of how we will create cultural confusion as we use a foreign language to convey cultural concepts,” he said.

Astrologer Rinchen Wangdi said all the 12 zodiac animals are categorised into two, male and female. Rat, tiger, dragon, horse, monkey and dog are male. Ox, rabbit, snake, sheep, bird (rooster) and pig are female. The gender of these animals in astrology are not at all interchangeable. Male and female years come alternately.

“People should not think of the actual biological gender of the cyclic animals. In astrology they are termed as female,” he said. “We are not talking about biological gender here,” he emphasised.

Meanwhile, people mocked the 2021-2022 lunar calendar when seeing the year named as “Female Ox Year.”  The Kuensel calendar with a picture of the female ox wearing a gho added to the confusion, providing material for mockery.

“The Ox could be a female astrologically, but Kuensel took it to another level by dressing the ox in a gho, the female Bhutanese attire,” wrote one.

Male or female, we hope the ox will work hard, or we work like the ox, in the new year and bring us a lot of success.