Monday, November 14, 2016

Here comes the Sun

Nyilo the Solstices: Some parts of Bhutan will celebrate winter solstice (guen nyilo) today, to mark Nyilo, the return of the sun.
Nyilo, according to the Bhutanese lunar calendar based on Buddhist astrology, is the first day of winter and the shortest day, after which the days start getting longer until the summer solstice.
“It’s celebrated as New Year, since this is the day when a new season begins,” lecturer for astrology with the Institute of Language and Culture Studies in Taktse, Trongsa, lopen Samten, said.

The lecturer explained that there is a difference of 10 days between the Bhutanese calendar and the Gregorian calendar.  Which is why, winter solstice on the Gregorian calendar fell on December 21 last year, while the same is observed 10 days later on the Bhutanese calendar.

While Nyilo might fall on the same month in the lunar calendar, it never falls on the same day, said Lopen Samten.  For instance, Nyilo was on the 9th day of the 11th month last year, while this year it’s on the 20th day of the 11th month.

“This is because Nyilo is based on the movement of the sun, known as khimzhag, and in the Gregorian calendar, the dates are based on the earth’s movement,” Lopen Samten said. “The difference is Buddhist astrology believes that the sun moves, while the Gregorian calendar is based on the earth’s movement.”

Therefore, he explained why Nyilo falls on the same date on every English calendar, but might shift by a day on leap years.

Like in Gregorian calendar, the Buddhist astrology also has two solstices (nyilo), and two equinoxes (nyin tsen nyampa).

Winter solstice or Guen Nyilo, which is celebrated today on the Bhutanese lunar calendar, is the day when the sun reaches Zhuchim (Sagittarius), corresponding to January in the Gregorian calendar.
Summer solstice or Yar Nylo is the day when the sun reaches Thrigpichim (Gemini), corresponding to June in the Gregorian calendar.

The zodiac signs, according to Lopen Samten, are known as the twelve star houses (karchim chu-nye) in Buddhist astrology.  Likewise, the vernal equinox, when the length of day and night is equal in spring, is known as sokhai nyin tsen nyampa in Buddhist astrology.

Autumnal equinox, or when the length of day and night is equal in autumn, is known as sekhai nyin tsen nyampa.

The two solstices and two equinoxes occur after six months and, together, the four occur at an interval of three months each in a year. “Therefore, the calendar based on Buddhist astrology is as scientific as the Gregorian calendar,” Lopen Samten said.

By Samten Yeshi Published in Kuensel on 02/01/2013  (Reproduced here since Kuensel's online web portal has been defunct to sort out past stories from its achieve. Some of my past stories from Kuensel are secured by other sites from where I took the liberty to copy on my blog

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