Phurpa Lhamo | Punakha

Residents of Dochu-Ritsa chiwog in Punakha celebrate Nyilo for three days every year.

In the first two days preceding the Nyilo, men gather to play archery or khuru (traditional dart game), children recite Lolay (verses, which basically wish a prosperous or good new year) and women gather to dance.

On the actual day, all individuals of the 40 households in the chiwog gather at Zomlingthang in Punakha for a picnic.

But residents will not have a grand celebration this year. Local leaders have also asked villagers to celebrate Nyilo within their family.

With the government extending the nationwide lockdown until January 2, farmers won’t come together.

According to Gomchen, 64, villagers decided to do away with the Lolay recitation this year. “Men would also go to houses collecting alcohol for the coming day. But we discussed and decided not to have such celebration during such times.”

Dochu-Ritsa’s sponsors for the picnic meant for this Nyilo will contribute next year.

“We usually have two volunteer sponsors who would come forward to provide food during Nyilo,” Gomchen said.

Nyilo, which means winter solstice, is popular among the people of Sha and Wang.

Recognising the importance of the day for the people, the dzongkhag stocked meat and alcohol and supplied to villagers as per their demand. Meat was imported from Tsirang and Phuentsholing. Alcohol has also been stocked.

According to dzongkhag planning officer, Phub Tshering, local leaders of 11 gewogs, and 55 chiwogs were made aware of the availability of the stocks. “This is to ensure that people celebrate at home.”

Dochu-Ritsa tshogpa, Dawa Gyeltshen said he had delivered meat and other essential items to around eight households yesterday morning.

Tshogpas in the dzongkhag keep touch with the people through group chat. “Most of them have already stocked meat. At the market, all kinds of meat are made available,” Dawa Gyeltshen said.

Meanwhile, Gomchen said they would light a butter lamp and pray this Nyilo.