The five-day long annual Jakar Tshechu is held at the Jakar Dzong or the ‘Castle of the White Bird’ which is perched on a hillock overlooking Bumthang’s Chamkhar valley. Constructed in 1549, by the Tibetan Lam Nagi Wangchuk, the Dzong played an important role as the fortress of defense for the whole eastern Dzongkhags (districts). A special feature of the Dzong is the approximately fifty meters high Utse or the Central tower, which is distinct from most other Dzongs in Bhutan. Apparently, when a group of lamas were in the area searching for a suitable site for the new dzong, a single white bird continuously circled overhead before settling on the top of a hill. This was considered a good omen, and the hill was selected as the site for the dzong and White Bird was adopted as its name.
This relatively new festival is organized by Jakar Dzong Monastic body and scheduled on the 7th day of the ninth month of Bhutanese Lunar Calender. During festival several mask and folk songs and dances are performed while the jesters, called atsaras, keep the crowd thoroughly entertained. Some of the important mask dances, performed during the Tshechu are Guru Tshengye Cham, Dramtse Nga Cham, Raksha Mangcham. The Guru Thongdroel consecrated on the final day of the Tshechu for the public veneration.
Like other festivals, Jakar Tshechu is also a magical spectacle in which the spiritual richness of the country is displayed through unique Bhutanese tradition of devotion, faith, respect and togetherness. Tshechu is also the event when people of all age groups in their finest clothing and jewellery get together and rejoice all against the backdrop of a colourful religious ceremony.
(Photo credit: Bumthang Dzongkhag Administration)