The festivals of Bhutan are a magical spectacle celebrated to honour Great Saint Padsambhava also known as Guru Rinpoche in the mountain Kingdom. The local terms for most of the festivals is ‘Tshechu’ (‘Tshe’ meaning date and ‘Chu’ means tenth) and the festivals are conducted all around the country coinciding 10th day of Bhutanese lunar calendar. The spiritual richness of the country is showcased and celebrated at these festivals with unique Bhutanese virtues of devotion, respect, compassion and togetherness. These festivals are in fact package of spiritual initiations, collective meditation and genuine manifestation of deep religious traditions and Bhutan’s unique concept of Gross National Happiness.
During festivals, well-choreographed masked dances, regional folk song & dances performed by men and women dressed in colorful costumes. The festival dances are known as Cham and are performed to bless onlookers, to teach them the Buddhist dharma, to protect them from misfortune and to exorcise all evil; the dancers take on the aspects of wrathful and compassionate deities, heroes, demons, and animals to do this. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and Pema Lingpa were main figures who composed many of the dances. For any individual to be present and see these dances and experience them with right mindset and pure intention is considered an auspicious activity.
An auspicious event of the many of the festivals is the unfurling of the Thongdroel from the main building of Dzongs, temples or monasteries overlooking the dance area. This is done before sunrise and most people rush to witness this magical moment. Thongdroels are large ‘Thangkas’ or ‘Religious pictures’ that are embroidered. The word ‘Thongdroel’ itself means 'liberation on sight.' It is believed that bad karmas are wiped away simply by viewing Thongdroel.
Some festivals also have a ‘Wang’, a collective verbal blessing given by a high lama. Coloured threads are distributed, and people tie them around their neck as witness to the blessing. Sometimes the Wang is called ‘Mewang’ meaning ‘Blessing by Fire’ which burns away their impurities.
These festivals apart from their enduring religious significance also provides an occasion for the locals to get together, to renew old friendships and to forge new alliances all against the backdrop of a colourful religious ceremony.
For travellers, festivals are special times to explore & experience the special destination of Bhutan and witnessing a Bhutanese festival is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Visits in conjunction with any of the festivals are the opportune times to get immersed in cultural richness of the region and enjoy the variety of local & unique activities and experiences. While focus on specific festival, our well planned and carefully crafted programs also offer opportunity to explore the prominent places in vicinity or enroute thus enhancing overall destination experience.