The festivals in Bhutan are known as Tsechus, meaning “10th day” of the month of the lunar calendar corresponding to the birth anniversary of Guru Rimpoche, a Buddhist saint who introduced Buddhism widely in Bhutan in the 8th century. Tsechu showcased the exotic and other worldly mysteries of Bhutanese culture deeply into its Buddhist faith, featuring a series of spectacular mask dances with intricate costumes and colourful Bhutanese folk dances. The dates and duration of the Tsechus varies from one place to another, but usually takes place on or around the 10th day of Bhutanese months annually in various temples, monasteries and dzongs throughout the country.
Tsechus are grand events where the people from the neighbouring counties come together to witness the religious mask dances and receive blessings. It is believed that by witnessing the religious mask dances the spectators are blessed and their sins get washed away by the blessing from the ritualized mask dances. Every mask dance performed during a Tsechu has a special meaning or a story behind it and many of them are based on the true stories and incident dates back from 8th century. On these occasions most of the time the mask dances are performed by the monks, but in some villages it is performed by the monks and lay men from that village. Each village takes pride in its annual local religious festivals, and any villagers who has gone to live in the city is expected to come back home for it.
Besides immersed into the Buddhist teaching, Tsechus are also a big social gathering and an opportunity to catch up with far-flung friends and relatives, marked by a holiday atmosphere where people put on their fine intricate clothing and jewelleries once in a year, after keeping a yearlong inside their cabinets. It is also a big feast among the family, friends and relatives sharing their food and conversations with joy and laughter. Besides the locals many tourists from across the world are attracted to these unique colourful and exciting displays of traditional culture.
The most of the highlights of Tsechu is unfurling of the giant Thangka (silk appliqué depicting prominent Buddhists religious figures) from a building overlooking to the crowd before sunrise, and such Thangkas are called Thongdrols. The word Thongdrols mean ‘Liberation by sights,’ and it is believed that one’s sins are washed away upon viewing the Thongdrols.
2015 is yet another very exciting year for tourism in Bhutan with over 33 different festivals scheduled across Bhutan. Be a part of these festivals and experience Bhutan’s rich culture, tradition and history.