Vietnamese family celebrates New Year Bhutan

LAM DONG – In the last days of the year, when Vietnamese families prepare for the Lunar New Year, in Da Lat City, Diem’s ​​family is also preparing to welcome the Bhutanese New Year Losar.

Ms. Nguyen Thi Diem, 42 years old, from Hanoi, moved to Bhutan and has been with this country for more than a decade. There are only a few Vietnamese people, most of whom live in cities, but she loves a peaceful life with her husband’s family in the nomadic village on the Sakteng steppe, Trashigang district, eastern Bhutan.

The traditional New Year Losar usually coincides with Vietnam’s Lunar New Year , but the Bhutanese do not worship New Year ‘s Eve, there is no custom of breaking the ground or celebrating the New Year. On the 30th of Tet, they prepare for the Puja Losar ceremony on the morning of the 1st, including torma, khabzey cakes, cooking thukpa (porridge) …

Ms. Diem attended the traditional Tet festival in Sateng village in 2018. Photo: Diem Loving Heart Nguyen.
Archery is a Bhutanese tradition. Photo: Diem Loving Heart Nguyen.

The first Losar New Year, according to Vietnamese habits, Diem presented a hearty ceremony to prepare for New Year’s Eve, when a Bhutanese explained: “Midnight is the active time of the ‘sentient beings.’ unusual ‘, if you bring out delicious food to worship will make them cling to the house. All rituals should be performed on the 1st morning.

On the first morning of the new year, family members wake up early, drink hot milk tea with hot roasted rice as usual, then start the Puja ceremony. “Bhutanese people go to Tet, not Tet. The whole family often go on picnics or pilgrimages to the holy places. On this occasion, the archery grounds attract men of all ages. People party together outdoors. “, Diem said.

Before coming to Bhutan, Diem practiced a Buddhist lifestyle, so she easily adapted. The Hanoi girl is even excited about milk tea, avocado tea and the tongue-tinging Emadhatshi – considered Bhutan’s “national spirit” – cooked only with cheese and chili.

The 42-year-old woman ate four Tet in Bhutan. What she was most impressed with was that in the month of Tet, there was an instruction from the king, the church, and the prime minister to close all butcher shops to “accumulate goodness” for the whole year. This is not a problem for the Bhutanese, because most of them eat vegetables, chili, cheese, and industrial chicken eggs.

In her village of Sakteng, people make a living by grazing yaks and yaks for milk, butter, cheese and wool, never slaughtering. When old cattle die on their own, they will take the meat after it has been left for a day and a night and perform some traditional rituals. “You can go to Bhutan and you can see people eating meager vegetables, some even wearing messy clothes, wrinkled old people, children with chubby cheeks … We are peaceful without needing anything “, Ms. Diem shared.

This year, due to Covid-19, her family will celebrate Tet in Dalat. On the 29th of Tet, she went to the market and bought a pair of banh chung and banh Tet, she went to the supermarket to buy more bags of flour and baking soda to make khabzeys. A relative gave flowers to an altar, a friend gave fruit. In front of the house, the cherry trees were blossoming at once, so she stopped buying peach branches.

On the Bhutanese New Year's Eve, coinciding with the Vietnamese New Year, Diem's ​​family prepared offerings including banh Chung, Tet cake and traditional khabzeys made from flour and baking soda.  Photo: Diem Loving Heart Nguyen.
The Bhutanese New Year coincided with the Vietnamese New Year, Diem’s ​​family prepared offerings including Chung cake, Tet cake and Khabzey cake (similar to quaking). Photo: Diem Loving Heart Nguyen.

According to the Buddhist spirit, Diem’s ​​family can use anything, rejoice with what they have. They are not picky about food, clothes. The altar even offered water, incense, flowers and candles. “Tet is a time to rest, have fun, meet, do things I like and especially do good deeds”, she shared. She has prepared more than a dozen gifts, including a rice nest and a little cash, for poor families in the area. Because of the translation, the family also postponed all temple trips.

Living in Dalat is cool and peaceful, quite like Bhutan, but the nostalgia for the steppe is still sobbing in Diem’s ​​heart. The village of Sakteng is towering over the Himalayas. In May snow melted, she used to follow Apa (father) and her younger brother to graze cattle on an endless green steppe at an altitude of more than 4,000 meters. In October, when it snows, her family drags the cattle again to the lowland 2,500 m, where there are already delicious leafy forests for the buffaloes and cows to eat during the half-year snow season.

Diem's ​​family lives in seclusion in Da Lat every time she returns to Vietnam.  In the photo, members of her family go out to clean the pine hill park in front of her house.  Photo: Diem Loving Heart Nguyen.
Diem’s ​​family lives in Da Lat every time she returns to Vietnam. In the photo, members of her family “go out” to clean up the pine hill park in front of her house. Photo: Diem Loving Heart Nguyen.

On the afternoon of the 27th of Tet, on the hill of Ngo Quyen Park, her whole family went to collect rubbish and hung signs: “Throw garbage in the bin / And I throw it at you”; “Don’t throw garbage around, let the hill clean and beautiful”; “Please don’t cut me off / Let me live / Enough leaves with enough branches / And to love you” …

“A few days ago, when I came back from a business trip, I found that the pine hill in front of my house was cut down and broken by the campers. My family members and I were very heartbroken, so I decided to put the signs as above, copper. When asking for firewood from the sawmills down the mountain to bring it to people to camp for free use “, Diem explained.

In her second hometown, in Bhutan, signs are not only orders, but are also written in a witty style, such as traffic signs: “Beep beep, don’t sleep”, “If you have get married, then divorce with alcohol “or the environmental sea” Keep the environment as clean as your mind “; “If you are a Buddhist, don’t damage any grass.”

“After one morning, we cleared the hill. Everyone is happy to have done their first public service for the new year,” said the 42-year-old woman, “I look forward to all translation to Bhutan. And later, when the kids grow up, I will go back to Sakteng to live this life. “

Life on the steppe of a Vietnamese woman in Bhutan:

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Photo: Facebook Diem Loving Heart Nguyen