Bhutan Festivals

Tshechus are religious events. The Buddhist faith has played a integral role in the social and cultural evolution of the country and its people. The ground where they are held is purified and consecrated by lamas, so when you are watching a festival, you are in essence, on the perimeter of an out door religious ground. The conduct of the onlooker should be governed with this in mind.
It is Buddhism, which provides a cohesive force among the communities and forms the social fabric that strengthens the communal kingship and identity of the Bhutanese.

The dancers, whether monks or laymen, are in a state of meditation. They transform themselves into the deities which they represent. They generate a spiritual power which clean, purifies, enlightens and blesses the spectators. With this in mind, it should be clear that obtrusive, disrespectful and discourteous behavior is out of place. The abiding and deep faith finds expression in the form of wood and metal works, prayer flags, Thangka paintings, wall murals, and in the form of music, songs and dances at the various annual festivals.

It is not surprising that many foreign visitors come to Bhutan to witness these vibrant and colorful religious festivals held annually throughout the country. The most important are the Tshechus, which are held in different districts for four to five days, at specific times during the year.

Rare masked and sword dances and other ritual ceremonies are performed in the courtyards and temples of the Dzong. The origins of most these sacred dances can be traced beyond the Middle Ages and are performed once or twice a year. Each sequence of dance has its own significance and is performed by monks dressed in bright traditional costumes. The most popular for visitors and tourists are those held in Paro, Chukha, in west and Trashigang, Trashiyangtse in east during Spring and in Thimphu, Bumthang in autumn.

These festivals apart from their enduring religious significance also provides an occasion for the locals to get together in their Sunday best to renew old friendships and to forge new alliances all against the backdrop of a colorful religious ceremony.

Festivals are not pageants or entertainment events. They are not held as tourist attraction. They are genuine manifestations of religious traditions thousands of years old which outsiders are given the opportunity to witness. We would like to see that privilege retained, without in anyway impairing or infringing on the beauty and sacredness of the ritual.

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