Bhutan’s Tsechu Festivals
If you have heard about Bhutan, surely you have heard about Bhutan’s Tsechu festivals. Tsechu, which literally means ‘day ten’ in Dzongkha language, are annual celebrations held in the Dzong fortresses and prominent temples on the 10th day of Tibetan-Bhutanese calendar.
Cham dances are the major attractions of Tsechu and are performed by monks and common people who wear traditional costumes and masks and portray the incidents from the life of 8th century Buddhist teacher Padmasambhava-who is also known as Guru Rinpoche in Bhutan and Tibet. The tradition of the tsechu goes back to 8th or 9th century when Guru visited Bhutan to cure the ailing king and performed rituals and rites involving series of dances.
The other attraction of Tsechu is thondrel display. A thongdrel is a giant silk embroidered painting of Guru Rinpoche, Zhabdrung and Buddha. Thongdrel display ceremony usually takes place on the last day, before dawn and stays out for public audiences for two or three hours and then it’s folded back and concealed inside for a year until the next Tsechu. As the thongdrel is raised, people cheer, hum the Buddhist prayers and offer Khada scarves to the sacred painting. People feel blessed by joining the thongdrel display and expect good fortune for the year.
Bhutanese people join the celebration with their friends and families and witness religious mask dances, receive blessings and socialize. Everyone wears national costume made up of finest hand oven textile. You may also request your guide to arrange a dress for you so that you don’t look odd in the crowd.
Besides formal mask dances, there will be folklore singing and dancing by locals and people enjoy outdoor picnic with their friends and families. It’s okay to crash into a group, if you wish. People are friendly and welcoming. Share your lunch with them and try theirs! For sure, you will love their home-cooked meals, while you will find them curious about the food you bring from your hotel or restaurant.
It’s okay to crash into the picnic of one of the groups, if you wish. People are friendly and welcoming. Share your lunch with them and try theirs! For sure, you will love their home-cooked meals, while you will find them curious about the food you bring from your hotel or restaurant.
The most popular Tsechu festivals are held in Thimphu (September or October), Paro (March or April) and Bumthang (October and November). There are many other tsechu festivals in different dzongks and temples throughout the country. Ask your travel adviser if your trip overlaps with one of these festivals.