Festivals

tshechu

Tshechu’s are celebrated in commemoration of Guru Rinpoche

Of recent, festivals in Bhutan have emerged from environmental and conservational needs like the takin, black-necked crane and nomad festivals. Tshechus however remain the dominant festival, and unlike the new festivals, it is ingrained in religious and spiritual tradition and culture of Bhutan.

Tshechu means the tenth day. It is an auspicious day on the Bhutanese Buddhist calendar  (lunar calendar) and a day one should remember the 18th Century saint, Guru Rinpoche, the lotus born who introduced Buddhism in Bhutan. It is believed it is on this day, if one recalls and pray to Guru Rinpoche, he will appear to the person.

On this auspicious day, tshechus are performed in different districts and communities. When communities or lhakhangs and monasteries observe it depend on a variety of factors like farming season and other holidays.

The timing factor is important because it is a grand event where the community is expected to come together. The festival is a time for socializing and witnessing and receiving blessing from the sacred mask dances. The two most popular tsechus in the country are the Thimphu and Paro tshechu for the number of people it attracts.

The highlights of the festivals are the mask dances, the thongdrol of Guru Rinpoche, which is unfurled at dawn. The thongdrol is believed to cleanse one of sins and defilements simply by viewing it.  Mask dances carry the same values, and it also prepares one for the afterlife.

The tshechus are like open-air threatre with the mask and other dances dramatic performances about the good VS evil, of morality, sins, sinners and the virtuous.

Some of the symbolic dances are the Dance of the Four Stags (Sha cham), Dance of the Heroes (Pacham), Black Hat Dance (Zhana), Dance of the Noblemen and the Ladies (Pholeg Moleg), Dance of the Lords of the Cremation Grounds (Durdag), Dance of the Rakshas and the Judgement of Dead (Ragsha Mangcham) and the Dance of the Eight Manifestations of Guru Rinpoche (Guru Tshen Gye).

The mask dances are performed by monks and in communities where there is not enough monks, lay people participate.

Tshechu festivals are between three to five days.

Thimphu tshechu

Mask dancers at the Thimphu tshechu

Tentative Festival dates 2014

Festival Place Date
PUNAKHA DRUBCHEN PUNAKHA 6th – 10th Mar
PUNAKHA TSHECHU PUNAKHA 11th – 13th Mar
CHHORTEN KORA TRASHIYANGTSHE 16th Mar & 30th Mar
GOMPHUKORA TRASHIGANG 7th – 9th Apr
PARO TSHECHU PARO 11th – 15th Apr
CHHUKHA TSHECHU CHHUKHA 13th – 15th Apr
URA YAKCHOE BUMTHANG 10th – 14th May
NIMALUNG TSHECHU BUMTHANG 5th – 7th Jun
KURJEY TSHECHU BUMTHANG 7th Jun
TOUR OF THE DRAGON (BICYCLE RACE) BUMTHANG TO THIMPHU 6th Sep
THIMPHU DRUBCHEN THIMPHU 28th Sept. – 2nd Oct
WANGDUE TSHECHU WANGDUEPHODRANG 1st – 3rd Oct
TAMSHING PHALA CHHOEPA BUMTHANG 2nd – 4th Oct
THIMPHU TSHECHU THIMPHU 3rd – 5th Oct
GASA TSHECHU GASA 3rd – 5th Oct
THANGBI MANI BUMTHANG 7th – 9th Oct
JAMBAY LHAKHANG DRUP BUMTHANG 6th – 10th Nov
PRAKHAR DUCHHOED BUMTHANG 7th – 9th Nov
BLACK NECKED CRANE FESTIVAL WANGDUEPHODRANG 11th Nov
MONGAR TSHECHU MONGAR 28th Nov – 1st Dec
TRASHIGANG TSHECHU TRASHIGANG 29th Nov. – 2nd Dec
NALAKHAR TSHECHU BUMTHANG 6th – 8th Dec
DRUK WANGYEL TSHECHU DOCHULA, THIMPHU 13th Dec
TRONGSA TSHECHU TRONGSA 30th Dec – 1st Jan 2015
LHUENTSE TSHECHU LHUENTSE 30th Dec. – 1st Jan 2015

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Updated: May, 2015