Ancient Bhutan Tours & Treks | FESTIVAL TOUR
FESTIVAL TOUR
At different times of the year, annual festivals known as “Tshechu” take place in different locations around the kingdom. Tshechus are festivals extolling the great deeds of the Buddhist saint Padsambhava, who is also known as "Guru Rimpoche". As these great deeds are believed to have all taken place on the 10th day of the a month in the Bhutanese lunar calendar all Tshechus also take place around the 10th day of the month – in fact, the word the word "Tshechu" means "the 10th day".

All districts, and a large number of villages in the east, have annual Tshechu festivals which attract people from various places. Tshechus are celebrated for several days (three to five), according to their location, and are an occasion for religious dances. Theses dances can be performed by monks, laymen or Gomchens (practicing) and the repertory is practically the same everywhere.

Atsara are clowns, with their expressive masks and postures, are an indispensable element in any religious festival. They confront the monks, toss out salacious jokes, and distract the crowd with their antics when the religious dances begin to grow tedious. Believed to represent Acharyas (religious masters of India) they are the only people permitted to mock religion in a society where sacred matters are treated with the highest respect. For a few days these popular entertainers are allowed the freedom to express a formulaic challenge within an established framework that does not, however upset the social and religious order.

Some tshechus end with the displaying of a huge appliqué thangka (scroll) called "Thongdroel". The Thongdroel is unveiled at first light to bring enlightenment to all who view it. The faithful believe that by simply viewing this Thongdroel, they can be delivered from the cycle of reincarnations,

For the Bhutanese, religious festivals offer an opportunity to become immersed in the meaning of their religion and gain much merit. They are also occasions for seeing people, and for being seen, for social exchanges, and for flaunting success. People bring out their finest clothes, their most beautiful jewelries, and go for picnic with abundant alcohol and meat. Men and women joke and flirt. An atmosphere of convivial, slightly ribald good humor prevails.
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