After selecting the best Bhutanese tour company for you, the next thing to do is to decide when you’re going to go! Usually tours are lined up around a particular festival. There is at least one every month almost ensuring that you have an opportunity to experience one.
Tshechu, meaning “day 10” are yearly religious Bhutanese festivals held in each district of Bhutan. Tschechus are held to honor Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava), who brought a Tantric form of Buddhism to Bhutan in 8th century.
Those who witness a Tshechu are thought to earn merit, be bestowed great luck, and will have their wishes come true. Besides that, it is also an occasion to socialize and be merry. Before the Tshechu begins, prayers and rituals are done beforehand in order to invoke the deities.
September 14 – 16, 2013
The Thimphu Tshechu is one of the biggest festivals in Bhutan as thousands of people flock to the capital in their finest garments. This three-day festival is a welcomed reprieve from work. During the festival, people pack into the courtyard of the Tashichho dzong (fortress), a dancing stage is erected, and mask dances, often with a religious significance, are performed.
March 23 – 27, 2013
The most popular spring festival, monks and laymen dress up in vibrant, brocade costumes. While wearing masks representing wrathful and peaceful deities, they re-enact the legends and history of Buddhism in Bhutan. The culminating moment of the festival is the viewing of the four storey high, 350 years old thangkha (Buddhist religious scroll), celebrating the deeds of Guru Rimpoche.
Jambay Lhakhang Drup
October 18 – 22, 2013
Bhutan Life Exposure organized my tour around this festival, Jambay Lhakhang Drup.
Traditional and mask dances are performed to honor Guru Rimpoche and to celebrate the establishment of the Jambay Lhakhang Monastery. The fire ceremony, Mewang, is considered the highlight. During the fire ceremony, locals sprint underneath a large flaming gate made from dry grasses. The other notable event is the Tercham (Dance of Treasure), where masked dancers perform naked in the middle of the night. They believe this dance will bless infertile women so that they may bear children.
February 15-19, 2013
What makes Punakha Drubchen different is the dramatic recreation of a scene from the 17th century battle with the Tibetan army. The local militia men (pazaps), dressed in battle gear, reenact the encounter. It’s to remember when the village districts in Bhutan came forward and managed to drive the Tibetan forces out of the country, bringing newfound internal peace and stability. The Punakha Tshechu is held immediately afterwards.
Haa Summer Festival
July 6-8, 2013
Set in a stunning location in the wilderness with views of the Himalayan landscape, the 3rd Haa Summer Festival gives visitors an in-depth picture of the lives and culture of the nomadic herders living in Haa Valley. It’s a happy and lively celebration of traditional Bhutanese culture, sports, and religion. Tourists can participate in some of the local sports (such as yak riding), try the local cuisine, or dance to their ancient folk songs.