Signs of the religious afflictions of the Bhutanese are quite ubiquitous and permeate a majority of the facets of their lifestyle. The practice of Buddhism is evident in the familiar Dzongs, stupas, prayer flags, and prayer wheels visible around the country. Buddhism was brought to Bhutan by Guru Rinpoche, or Padmasambhava, in the 8th century. The Thimphu Tsechu festival is the celebration of his birthday and is held every year on the tenth day of a month of the lunar calendar corresponding to the date of his birth. The exact month of the celebration however differs from place to place and temple to temple. This year, you can experience Tsechu festival from the 30th of September to 2nd October, 2017 during your trip to Bhutan.
Guru Rinpoche. Source: Wikipedia
Tsechus are celebrated with much grandeur all across the country, in Dzongs, monasteries and temples. It is believed that one must attend a Tsechu at least once in his lifetime to receive blessings and wash away the sins of one’s life. Colorful masked dances that accompany the ceremonies depict stories about the life of Guru Rinpoche from the 8th century, each of them different from the other. Tsechus also include various Bhutanese dances and other forms of traditional entertainment, facilitating social interactions, and an exciting time overall. One must plan trip to Bhutan during the Tsechu festival to experience first-hand the extent of the Bhutanese religious faith.
On your visit, keep a look out for the traditionally dressed men and women in beautifully patterned Ghos and Kiras!
Masked dances. Source: Unchartedbackpacker
To experience one of the largest editions of the Tsechu in terms of participation, head over to Paro and Thimphu. Bhutanese from the neighbouring villages and districts gather at these cities to take a break from their farm life and immerse themselves into festivities and socialising, lighting up the streets with life and celebration.
A highlight of the Paro Tsechu festival is the unfurling of the silk Thangka. Also known in Bhutanese as Thongdroel, it is a religious picture scroll so large it apparently covers the face of an entire building. It is unfurled for a few hours on the first day of the festival and is considered to be one of the most sacred blessings one can obtain. It is believed that the mere sight of it confers liberation.
Thongdroel at Thimphu Tsechu. Source: Bhutan Travel Co
The Bhutanese are highly socially aware and inculcate the same in short skits that are performed by Atsaras as part of the Thimphu Tsechu festival. The most famous dances performed during the Thimphu Tsechu are the Shaw Shachi (Dance of the Stags) and Guru Tshengye (Eight Manifestations of Guru).
Thimphu Tsechu. Source: Adventure Bhumi
While on a break from the festivities, head over to experiment with the innumerable varieties of traditional Bhutanese dishes that are specially made for the festival. Take your pick from the variety of datshis, marus and paas. Sip on the butter tea or Suja, and immerse yourself into the culture around with a trip to Bhutan.