Bhutan is a vibrant a happy country and its festivals are famous throughout the world.
Known locally as ‘Tshechus’, the festivals are incredibly flamboyant, bright and fun and many tourists base their Bhutan trekking experience around certain festivals.
The word Tshechu actually means ‘10th day’ and all monasteries and temples hold their Tshechu on the 10th day of the month, however, the month varies from temple to temple.
Tshechus are incredibly important in Bhutanese culture and entire cities, villages and towns will attend their local Tshechu.
Communities gather at Tshechus to dance, socialise and take blessings. It is believed that you must attend at least one Tshechu a year and watch a masked dance to wash away your sins.
For tourist, Tshechus are really amazing events to witness. Their colour, vibrancy, hustle and bustle makes them one of the most exciting things to see in Bhutan! Below we have listed our top three Tshechus in Bhutan.
The Paro Tshechu is by far the biggest and most popular spring time festival in the country. Thousands of local people join the festivities to celebrate and re-enact the most popular historical legends in Bhutanese culture. Tourists all speak highly of this festival and the intricate masks, awesome food and vibrant feel of the event makes it so special. The Tshechu culminates when the spiritual leaders unroll the four storey high thangkha (Buddhist religious scroll). The scroll celebrates Guru Rimpoche and is supposedly over 350 years old!
Jambay Lhakhang Drup
The Jambay Lhakhang Drup is one of the most flamboyant festivals on the Bhutanese calendar. The festival runs over five days with locals taking part in many of the masked dancers. The highlight of the festival is the fire ceremony which sees many locals running underneath an extremely big flaming gate made from local grasses. Another highlight that tourists tend to enjoy is the midnight dancers in which masked performers dance naked around the stage! The performance is meant to increase fertility.
Black-necked Crane festival
The Black-necked Crane festival is always held on the 11th of November each year to celebrate the arrival of the endangered Black-necked Crane to the region. Hosted within the courtyard of Gangtey Gonpa, the dances are mean to raise awareness to the bird’s plight and strengthen the bond between animal and man and raise conservation awareness. The festival is in the beautiful Phobjikha Valley where the cranes arrive each year from the far north.
For more information on Bhutan see this great guide: http://www.mountainiq.com/guides/trekking-in-bhutan/