Bhutan’s numerous festivals are a joyful expression of its culture – and largely inspired by Buddhism.
The Tshechu – or the masked dance festivals – is a rare occasion and a living testimony to the country’s ancient past. These festivals are a dedication to Guru Rinpoche who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in the 7th century. They are held in every district (often in the Dzongs) annually. As it has happened for centuries, people continue to converge at festivals both to pursue their spiritual practice, and to participate in the community event. The Tshechu is a place to see and be seen.
Tshechus are also an important social event for the Bhutanese. People come dressed in their finest. Women wear their most beautiful jewelry, families pack their best food for lunch, men and women joke and exchange tales, and children crane their necks to catch a sight of the day-long dances. some importants festivals are briefing as below:
Dromche (festival) generally include dances and this festival is dedicated to Yeshe Gompo (Mahakala) or Palden Lhamo, the two main protective deities of Drukpas (Drukpas = means people of Druk land or Bhutanese). Punakha Dromche take place in the first month of the lunar year and ends with 'Serda', a magnificent procession which re-enacts an episode of the war against the Tibetan in the 17th century.
Jambay Lhakhang Drup
The festival is held for duel reasons; to commemorate an establishment of Jambay Lhakhang (temple) in 7 th century and to honor Guru Rimpoche, a saint who introduced Tantric form of Buddhism in Bhutan . A variety of traditional and mask dances are performed and each dance bear significant meaning/importance.
This festival is one of the most important in Bhutan and its high light is the 'Mewang" - the fire ceremony and the " Tercham" - a religious dance. A fire dance is held in the evening to bless infertile women so that they may bear children.
There is a sequence of dances at Paro Tshechu. Most dances are the same at others Tshechus, but the sequence varies. On day one is Shinje Yab Yum, dance of the lord of death and his consort. The costume is of buffalo mask and long brocade dress. The day two begins with "chipdrel" traditional reception. The Astara (clown) welcomes the audience with the marchang ceremony. The the mask dances begin
Thimpu festival is the festival of dances. Some of these dances are shacham or the dance of the four stag, pelage gingsum or the dance of the three kinds of ging, pacham or the dance of the heroes, shawo shachi or dance of the stags and the hounds, dranyeo cham or dance with guitar, shana or black dance, shaa nga cham or dance of the 21 black hats with drum and, pholeg moleg or dance of the noblemen and the ladies.
TshechuTshechu is festival honouring Guru Padsambhava - 'one who was born from lotus flower'. This Indian saint contributed enormously to the diffusion of Tantric Buddhism in the Himalayan regions of Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan etc. around 800 A.D. He is the founder of the Nyingmapa, the 'old school' of Lamaism which still has numerous followers.