Glimpse of Lomba Celebration (Bhutanese New Year)
“Every hand has its own taste,” Tshomo says regarding her twist on traditional Bhutanese cooking. Here, Tshomo prepares a celebratory feast for Lomba, a Bhutanese New Year holiday. Depending on region and tradition, several different New Year holidays are recognized in Bhutan. Lomba is one such celebration that falls in December and is celebrated specifically by the districts of Haa and Paro. To make ema datshi, Bhutan's national dish, Tshomo begins by forming hardened balls of cheese made from her own cows' milk. She then crumbles this "local cheese," which tastes similar to sour ricotta, and mixes it with a soft cheese imported from India for a smoother taste. The cheeses are stirred into a fiery yet delicious combination of homegrown chilies, salt, and homemade butter. Tshomo, who has been cooking ema datshi since she was ten years old, adds spring onion for her own special twist. Also on the menu is pumpkin soup, green beans datshi, and Lomba’s signature dish: hoentey, or buckwheat dumplings.
Extended family comes to join in the Lomba celebration, including Tshomo’s cousin's brother, a monk in current studies. The family dines cross-legged on the floor of the main room, circled around the furnace that heats the house. At night, more wine paves the way for the sharing of a traditional song and dance performance. This song, like most Bhutanese music, is romantic in theme. It describes the sad story of a lost love. The daughters emphasize the importance of finger gestures within traditional dance: "The eyes follow the fingers.”
After a long night, Tshomo’s parents depart to sleep overnight at the nearby temple as they are tasked with protecting its sacred relics. Similarly, the MyBhutan team takes a sacred night's rest in Tshomo's altar room. The bright joy and spiritual energy of the land provides tranquility and rejuvenation.