Types of Bhutan Festival
There are TWO Types of Festivals in Bhutan, ONE is the “Tsechus” which is religious, and TWO is the Nature and Local Events Festival like the Rhododendron Festival, Matsutake Mushroom Festival, The “Takin” Festival(Takin is the National Animal of Bhutan), The Black Necked Crane Festival and The Nomads Festival.
Depending on your Bhutan Travel Dates and number of days that you will be in Bhutan, you can witness the Festivals.
When making a Bhutan Festival Tour Itinerary, we take into account that tourists will be doing some cultural and Leisure sightseeing in Bhutan. Below is a sketch travel plan and information to help you plan your holiday.
The Meaning and Importance of Bhutan Religious Festivals or Tshechus.
Bhutan Festival known as “Tshechus” is a festival that honours Guru Padmasambhava “the one who was born from a lotus”. The dates and duration of the Festivals vary from district to district but is always commemorated on the 10th day of the Bhutanese calendar.
During Tshechus, the sacred dances are performed by the Lamas, monks and the laymen. One witnessing the festival is said to gain merit and receive blessings. Festivals in Bhutan is a social occasion where the locals gather dressed in their best attire and ornaments.
Bhutan Festivals are one of the occasions where travellers and tourists to Bhutan want to witness. Some want to see the unique culture and traditions that Bhutan is so deeply engraved in, and some want to just experience the sacredness of the festivals. Whatever be the reason, for the Bhutanese People, this is an annual occasion where all family members and friends come together to witness the festivals, same as in olden days, where people got dressed in their best traditional attires and jewellery and received the blessings and believed with great faith their human souls would be liberated.
The word, TSECHU, is derived from the Dzongkha terms for date (tse) and the number 10 (chutham). Appropriately, a tsechu is conducted on the auspicious tenth day of a selected month (according to the lunar calendar), once every year.
Like festivals everywhere the world over, a tshechu is a social affair. Populaces gather at the local dzong/fortress or Lhakhang/temple in the Western equivalent of their Sunday best with packed lunches and making merry. It is important to remember that a tshechu is essentially a religious affair. That is why the high-points of such festivals are the masked dances that monks perform according to steps meticulously choreographed by Buddhist masters in the distant past. Following narrative structures, these dances are loaded with religious symbolism that the non-Bhutanese will find hard to comprehend without a guide’s explanation.
The numbing clash and blend of colours as well as the symphony of traditional gongs, horns, cymbals and drums, however, make tshechus especially memorable auditory and visual experiences.
ATSARAS ; For the Bhutanese, no tshechu is complete without Atsaras (clowns). Performing seemingly lewd but symbolically philosophical antics, these clowns pass on divine blessings and ensure that smiles and laughs do not run short.
The best known tshechus are those of Paro and Punakha, which are held in the spring, and that of Thimphu, which is held in the fall. As these are the most popular traveling seasons, visitors may see other camera-sporting tourists, some much too eager to encroach upon performers’ space. While the generally polite Bhutanese may not admonish such trespassing, respectful behaviour more appropriate to religious occasions will go better appreciated.
Happy Festive Time in Bhutan.