Paro Tshechu Festival: Paro is a town in the south west of Bhutan. It has a population of 4,500 people. Paro is a historic town with many sacred sites and historical buildings scattered through the area. In addition, the Paro Valley is wide and verdant and is recognized a one of the most beautiful in all Bhutan. Prefer to stay in Paro if you are someone who is fond of nature and would like to spend quiet and peaceful time. However, apart from the main street (which is constructed of traditional wooden structures), the bazaar area is a nondescript hodgepodge of concrete buildings that is totally bereft of charm and character. Along with Jakar and Punakha, Paro forms the ‘golden triangle’ of popular tourist destinations in Bhutan.
The Paro Tshechu is held every spring and is one of the most colorful and significant events in Paro district. The Tsehchu is considered a major attraction and people travel from neighboring districts to participate in the festivity. Early in the morning on the last day of the celebration the monks display a gigantic thangkha (embroidered painting) , the Guru Throngdel, inside the dzong. Thongdrols are especially impressive examples of Buddhist art and never fail to amaze viewers. They are considered so sacred that simply seeing a Thongdrols is said to cleanse the viewer of sin. These are annual religious Bhutanese festivals held in each district or dzongkhag of Bhutan on the tenth day of a month of the lunar Tibetan calendar. Tshechus are religious festivals of the Drukpa Lineage of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism.
These are large social gatherings, which perform the function of social bonding among people of remote and spread-out villages. Large markets also congregate at the fair locations, leading to brisk commerce. The Thimphu tshechu and the Paro tshechu are among the biggest of the tshechus in terms of participation and audience.
The focal point of the tshechus is Cham dances. These costumed, masked dances typically are moral vignettes, or based on incidents from the life of the 9th century Nyingma teacher Padmasambhavaand other saints.Most tshechus also feature the unfurling of a thongdrel – a large appliqué thangka typically depicting a seated Padmasambhava surrounded by holy beings, the mere viewing of which is said to cleanse the viewer of sin. The thongdrel is raised before dawn and rolled down by morning.
The dance schedule for each day of the four-day festival is set out and generally consists of the following dances:-
On the first day of Paro Tshechu, the performances cover: Dance of the Four Stags (Sha Tsam); Dance of the Three kinds of Ging (Pelage Gingsum); Dance of the Heroes (Pacham), Dance of the Stags and Hounds (Shawo Shachi) and Dance with Guitar (Dranyeo Cham)
On the second day of Paro Tshechu, the dances performed are: The Black Hat Dance (Shana), Dance of the 21 black hats with drums (Sha nga ngacham), Dance of the Noblemen and the Ladies (Pholeg Moleg), Dance of the Drums from Dramitse (Dramitse Ngacham), Dance of the Noblemen and the Ladies (Pholeg Moleg) and Dance of the Stag and Hounds (Shawa Shachi)
On the third day of Paro Tshechu, the dances performed are: Dance of the Lords of the Cremation Grounds (Durdag), Dance of the Terrifying Deities (Tungam) and Dance of the Rakshas and the Judgement of the Dead (Ragsha Mangcham)
On the last day of Paro Tshechu, of the festival, the dances performed cover: Dance of Tamzhing Monastery in Jakar, Dance of the Lords of the Cremation grounds (the same dance as day 3), Dance of the Ging and Tsoling (Ging Dang Tsoling) and Dance of the Eight Manifestations of Padmasambhava (Guru Tshen Gye).
The last day of the four-day festival also marks the unfurling of the Thongdrel, a very large scroll painting or thangka, which is unfurled with intense religious fervour, early in the morning. This painting measuring 30 metres has the images of Padmasambhava at the centre flanked by his two consorts and also his eight incarnations. Devotees who gather to witness this occasion offer obeisance in front of the Thongdrel seeking blessings. Folk dances are performed on the occasion. Before sunrise, the painting is rolled up and kept in the Dzong before it is displayed again one year later.