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Lomba – Bhutanese New Year Celebration

Lomba – Bhutanese New Year Celebration

The New Year celebrated in Paro and in Haa, the two western districts of Bhutan are commonly known as ‘Lomba’. The ‘Lomba’ or ‘becoming one year older’ indicates the passing of the old year and the coming of the new year. It is observed from the 29th day of the 10th month to the 3rd day of the 11th month as per Bhutanese lunar calendar.

lomba-bhutanese-newyear

On the evening of the 29th day of the lunar month, an echo of ‘Lolay, Lolay’ is heard to thank God for the good year Parops & Haaps (people of Paro & Haa) had as they make new wishes for the New Year. The children go around in the evening carrying a long stick with a basket hanging on one end. The song is sung until the owners of the houses come out and place a hoentey (buckwheat dumplings) in the baskets. During this festival, people
greet each other ‘Lolay’, meaning ‘good new year’.

During Lomba a small ritual is done at home to chase off the evil and invite prosperity, happiness, and good health in the new year. A small human-like figure is made from wheat flour and dressed in small pieces of cloth from the national dress. These figures are later shouted at to chase away the evil. Dough of small sizes are patted on different part/s of people’s body to suck off the negative energy and evil spirits. This dough is called ‘Chi Chi’. It is believed that the Lus take away these negative energies for the new year to start with a good omen.

Lomba, the new year is also time of feasting, archery and other traditional sports. The young ones can be seen playing archery in the paddy fields while the elder ones in the proper archery ground. This is also a time when all crops are harvested, and people get some free time before beginning of work again. The people of Haa and Paro, living in other part of the country return home during Lomba to be with their families and celebrate the special occasion. The Lomba, besides being a time of celebrations, is also a time to give thanks and make offerings to local deities.

(Photo credit: Haa Dzongkhag Administration)





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