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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bhutanese version of Thanksgiving Day- Chu-nyi-pa Losar

Little did i know that today is Dawa Chu-nyi-pa Losar( direct trans: 12th Month New year) until i logged into facebook early morning-which is a part of my ritual, and came across a stream of wishes marking this event. It brought a sudden gush of nostalgia, and for a moment, I was lost in the flashbacks of those good old days. How i wish i was there, to be lost in the wilderness of the celebration.

Well, let me explain a bit about the specialty of this particular day before i flood with stories of how i found this specific occasion as a kid. How do i start it?Well, to begin with, I firstly cross-checked with the calendar that i recently downloaded from the kuenselonline to doubly ensure that today is unmistakably the Losar( not that i don't trust my friends) ,and yes it was. This year, the Sharchokpa Losar( named after its popularity in the Sharchop community) aka "Traditional Day of Offering" is on the 24th of January 2012. No matter what date and day the Gregorian calendar reads, this Losar is always the first day of the twelfth lunar month. "This" because, we also have another Losar( the first day of the first month of the year as per the lunar calendar)-which is logically the new year. Anyways,it is always good to have as many holidays- atleast to me.

The day being widely popular for gulping down jars of ara, bangchang, cingchang-all of which are locally brewed liquors, and the never ending merry making programs( the celebration lasts for weeks in rural areas), all that the people know is the fun part of the story. In essence,the Traditional Day of Offering is actually a time of offering and thanksgiving for the Bhutanese people, typically directed towards Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the founder of Bhutan, who came to the country during the early seventeenth century. The day is locally known as "Buelwa-phuewi-nyim"- a day of offering.So,to speak, we also do have a "Thanksgiving Day" in Bhutan - ofcourse, without the turkey. The government, for some reason, had taken off this holiday from the national gazette for an year, but had to reinstate it following the outcry of sentiments from its people.That was so naive a decision, per se.

Coming back to the continuation of my memoir, as a kid, this day had a significant grandeur for several reasons. On this day, parents used to wake up early morning and prepare thukpa (rice pudding) which as a kid wasn't that fond of, the pepper would give a million twitch on the tender lips. The exciting part was, however, every kids would be dressed up in their best attire and would walk around in the neighborhood to show off or atleast in anticipation of silly praises. We would each be clutching few notes received on this day from our parents- the newness of the notes was of importance rather than the amount- how silly was i then. In my case, no matter what, the notes would have already reached the deposit box of the nearby shop around midday - I was pretty fast in it. By then, parents would have done with all the menu for the lunch. There would be exchange of delicacies with neighbors. I usually wouldn't participate in the luncheon, no matter how delicious it was, as the disappeared notes would have already given me enough fill-up of candies, crackers, cookies, etc. There would be various scenes in and around the locality,in all kinds and forms, especially the after-effects of the locally brewed liquors. Archery match amongst the elderly would be more of a merry-making than the competition. People would also engage in playing dego,khuru,yum,etc in smaller groups- which are all traditional games. With the eventful day drawing towards an end, large number of families would gather around a fire for a grand dinner, often the pig's head as a delicacy(poor pig) and ofcourse rounds of ara and circular-dances. In a nutshell, Losar is one particular day when both young and old alike, rejoices in these festivities of the occasion.

I never knew that i can blabber a lot. It is already 6:00 PM and i need to celebrate myself in my own small ways (Phaksha paa with rice and Calsberg as a substitute to ara- how does it sound?). Luckily, i have some bacon and chilies and oh! i need some radish. I am off to the store to get it before it is closed. Once again wish everyone a Losar Tashi Delek!


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