KP Sharma

More than 500 students in Thimphu with support from de-suups participated in reciting lolay at Lhengye Densa and other parts of the city to welcome the New Year.

Winter Solstice or Nyilo is celebrated to welcome the New Year, especially by the people of Shar and Wang regions.

According to the Buddhist astrology, Nyilo is the day from which the duration of sunlight time increases, signifying the start of longer days until the Summer Solstice.

For farmers, longer days mean enough time to work in fields.

Children were divided into groups and they went around the locality reciting lolay, wishing happy and prosperous new year.

On the first day, towards the evening, students undergoing the month-long orientation programme on Buddhism and culture under zhung dratshang in collaboration with de-suung nang choed programme visited Lhengye Densa and nearby places.

The other group, on the second day, included 15 students. They were welcomed by the prime minister and other cabinet members at their residences.

The prime minister conveyed his appreciation and happiness to the groups for preserving the age-old culture.

Ngawang Thinley Dorji, a Class III student of Jungshina Primary School expressed his joy in getting to participate in singing lolay. “This is my first experience and I enjoyed going around singing lolay and wishing people a prosperous year ahead.” He was encouraged to join the programme by his mother.

Children are offered rice, salt, fruits, meat, butter, cheese and money by the head of the family once they complete singing lolay. At the end of the day, they gather together and use whatever they have collected for a party on the next day.

“I first saw children singing lolay in one of the villages during the New Year celebration”, said Palden Rada Wangmo from Jungshina Primary School.

Coordinators said that the students were trained in reciting lolay in an effort to revive the dying culture.

People believe that the culture of reciting Lolay existed in Bhutan much before the arrival of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel because the verses Lolay contains the description of traditional Bhutanese farmhouse, which existed before the arrival of Zhabdrung in 1616.