Bhutan Festivals, Events & Holidays

Mask Dance during Thimphu Tsechu, 2019

Since time immemorial, festival or locally called Tsechu has governed the social and religious structures in Bhutan. Even on the stage of 21st century, it hasn’t lost its gloss and essence. It still hold together in one thread tradition and culture, which is abundantly in display during festival. Something, which everybody, be it old or young alike irrespective of strata of society they belong to look forward to. Tshechus are annual religious Bhutanese festivals held in each district or Dzongkhag of Bhutan on the tenth day of a month of the lunar Tibetan calendar. The month depends on the place. Tsechus are religious festivals of Drukpa Buddhism. The Thimphu Tsechu and the Paro Tshechu are among the biggest of the Tshechus in terms of participation and audience. Tsechus are large social gatherings, which perform the function of social bonding among people of remote and spread-out villages. Large markets also congregate at the fair locations, leading to brisk commerce.

Thimphu Festival

Technically, Tshechu are celebrated in honor of Guru Padmashamva, tutelary deity of Bhutan.The focal point of the Tshechus is the sacred Cham Dances. These costumed, masked dances typically are moral vignettes, or based on incidents from the life of the 9th century teacher Padmasambhava and other saints.

Most Tshechus also feature the unfurling of a thongdrel (or thangka) – a large tapestry typically depicting a seated Guru Rinpoche surrounded by holy beings, the mere viewing of which is said to cleanse the viewer of sin. The thongdrel is raised before dawn and rolled down by morning. Festival is the integral part and permeates in every aspects of Bhutanese life, which still uphold traditions and culture in same league as when it first started. It still draws mammoth crowd, festival is the most vibrant form of spectacle, where people from all walk of life in their finest attire come together to celebrate.