Bhutan’s colourful festivals definitely will leave a big impression on all visitors. Although they are very joyful and the local alcohol arra is drunk abundantly, all festivals are holy spiritual events and its attendees gain merit for the next life.
Tshechus were established during the 17th century and have a religious background. Sword dances and other religious rites are performed by monks or village elders, wearing the most astonishing bright and symbolical costumes and masks. Each dance has its own spiritual importance and is meant to teach the visitors about the Buddhist teachings (Dharma), freeing them from evil and protecting them from accidents.
The tshechus take place each year at the dzongs, either in spring or autumn, arranged according to the lunar calender. They are celebrated for three to five days and all public is welcome. The festivals are held in the courtyards and temples of the dzongs which come alive with music, color and dancing, watched by people in their finest clothes. Purpose of the tshechus is not only to educate the people, but they also provide a forum for social gatherings and contacts. The largest and most important tshechus happen during spring and fall in Thimphu, Paro and Bumthang. It’s also the time when foreign tourism is at its highest.
The dromchoes are dedicated to the protecting deities of Bhutan’s different drukpas (districts). Early spring the most famous dromchoe takes place at the Punakha dzong in honor of Mahakala, the protecting spirit of Punakha. Combat cantos, songs and dances are performed as well as the Marching Ceremony, executed by the traditional military called Pazaps.
Another festival which is very special to attend, is a Tse Chu. These religious monastery festivals are held all over Bhutan and their purpose is to exorcise evil spirits, to reconcile the gods and to ask for a good harvest. Just like the tshechus and dromchoes, during Tse Chu the dzong’s monks wear beautiful costumes and masks, supported by the impressive tunes of the festival’s music.
Bhutan knows many festivals and their dates are set far ahead. Note though that in some areas, especially outside Thimphu and Paro, festival dates can change without notice. Therefore you better confirm dates for local festivals with the authorities of the different dzongs or dzongkhags. You can also contact the Bhutan Tourism Corporation Limited, which lists the main and best known festivals. All of the festival dates are based on the Lunar Buddhist Calender and vary from year to year.
Please check the website of the Tourism Council of Bhutan for current information.
: on YouTube there are several video’s of Bhutanese festivals. Check them out or click at one of the links listed below