The Year of the Tiger was as wild as the beast itself. It started with restricting our movement (lockdowns) and was dominant in heeding to its call. The tiger called for change; new normal some say. The year was dominated by the roar for change. 

The mighty king of the wild called for reform and transformation suiting the needs and demands of the 21st century. Change was what we witnessed – whether in the way we function or the greater world order getting disrupted. Indeed, it was a year of change with a hope for a better world.

Far away from the mountains we saw how globalised the world was. The ripple effect of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, this time last year, was felt in tiny Bhutan. In fact, it was badly felt as fuel prices shot up and disturbance in logistics affected the price of essentials like wheat and cooking oil.  The message from the tiger was to be prepared for shake ups.

As we bid  goodbye to the roaring tiger and welcome the milder rabbit, what can we expect? Will it be a milder or a restful year? The rabbit is considered the luckiest animal in the Chinese Zodiac. It is expected to bring prosperity, hope and calm.  If the rabbit can stay true to what it can do, we look forward to a good year. 

But the rabbit in Bhutan, as far as we know, will be as busy as the busy bunny. There is no time to rest. It will be one of the busiest years for the rabbit. We have two elections lined up. As the rabbit leaps to the second quarter of the year, we would have elected new National Council  members. And with five political parties registered to contest the 2023-24 Assembly election, it will not be a mild or a restful year. 

We will also be in the 13th Five Year Plan with a new government preparing us to graduate from the group of least developed countries to a middle income country. If we can like what the rabbit personifies, gently and quickly navigate the problems surrounding us, it will be a much chiller, restful and successful year.

It is, however, easier said than done. Our astrologers predict that there will be threats from diseases and economic hurdles. These are some of the realities for us to tackle. We have just managed to escape, largely unscratched from the Covid-19 pandemic. But with climate change and global warming, threats from human-induced disasters are becoming unpredictable, diseases included. 

On the economic front, the discourse among experts is a looming global recession. This could be worsened by the deepening conflict in east Europe. The only consolation is that the rabbit can manage to avoid danger if it can use its speed, agility and nimbleness to defend itself. The rabbit’s personality is interpreted in so many ways. If it symbolises hope, peace and calm, it also means vulnerability. The institute of astrology in Pangrizampa says the year of the Rabbit will be the worst for the elderly people. This is worth noting if not ominous as we hear the old and elderly left alone to fend for themselves in rural Bhutan or called to the urban centres to babysit for office-going parents or those leaving for abroad in search of better opportunities.

The past year has been volatile in many ways. We need the traits of the rabbit – calmness and the skills along with agility to manoeuvre the fast changing times.