Tshechu Duration: 3days
Event date: September, 19th to 21st, 2018
Event location: Thimphu Dzong

Tshechu Overview

Along with Paro Tshechu, The Thimphu Tshechu attracted more than 3,000 travellers per year to Bhutan. Many people agree that the occasion of Thimphu Tshechu is the best time off to visit Bhutan, as the weather is clear and cool, and the capital city of Thimphu is filled with vivid festive colours. The annual national holiday is held for three consecutive days, beginning on the 10th day of the 8th month of lunar calendar. Thus, this year, Thimphu Tshechu will fall from 19th -21st September 2018.

The Thimphu Festival (Tsechu) is one of the grandest of Bhutan’s festivals that attract thousands of both locals and international audience. Featuring dances performed by trained monks and laymen in amazing masks and costumes, Tsechus (festivals) are one of the best ways to experience the ancient living culture of Bhutan. A Tsechu is a Buddhist festival in honour of Guru Rimpoche, the saint who brought Buddhism to Bhutan. The festival was introduced by 4th Desi, Gyalse Tenzin Rabgay in 1867. The event offers a rich insight into numerous religious dances such as Dances of the 21 Black Hats, Dance of the Lords of the Cremation Ground, Dance of the Terrifying Deities; in additional to mask dances performed by lay monks such as Eight Manifestations of Guru and Dance of the Stags. It is held annually in the courtyard of Tashichodzong, a landmark of great importance housing the ruling political party’s office and the office of the King of Bhutan.

As usual, the Thimphu tshechu is held in Trashicho Dzong (fortress), which the Dzong has been the seat for Bhutan’s government since 1968. It presently houses the throne room and offices for the king, the cabinet secretariat and the Ministry for home & cultural affairs. It also houses the Central Monastic Body and the living quarters of the Chief Abbot and the senior monks.

The three-day religious event plays an important role in the lives of Bhutanese people as it is an opportunity for the Buddhist followers to immerse and cleanse themselves of the bad Karma and to remind them of what to make of their lives. Staying true to the age-old tradition, locals dressed in their finest outfit and pieces of jewellery gather at the Thimphu Tashichoedzong. This spiritual social event brings people together unified by the common culture, tradition, and beliefs. The sacred mask dance (Chham) is believed to invoke deities blessing all who witness the Chham.

Highlights of daily events on Thimphu Tshechu.

Day 1 Highlights

Shawo Shachi, Dance of the Stag and the Hounds is a biographic drama inspired by the legacy of an eleventh-century Tibetan yogi Jetsun Milarepa. The dance illustrates the encounter of the saint and a hunter Gonpo Dorje who was converted to a compassionate Buddhist by the wise and compassionate saint.
The dance is presented as the hunter Gonpo Dorje and his hunting hounds chase after a terrified stag where they encounter the meditating saint and the saint sings songs of compassion and realization which calms the stag and the hound and they submit to Milarepa’s feet which infuriates the hunter even more and shoots his arrows at the saint, to his bewilderment the arrows snap three times. The compassionate saint sings his song of realisation and the hunter moved submits himself at the feet of Milarepa. This dance demonstrates compassion and forgiveness which are an important aspect of Buddhist beliefs.

Besides above religion dances, there will be a lot of other entertainment programs performed by Atsara, a clown (red laughing mask) and beautiful dance by Royal Academy of Performing Arts (RAPA) which adds more thrill to get self-entertained.

Day 2 Highlights

The Durdag Chham, the dance of the lords of the cemetery is performed by 4 dancers wearing white skeletal costume and skull mask. The Chham is illustrated by these 4 dancers marching into the courtyard with thunderbolt steps to summon all negative forces. Dancers bend backwards touching the ground by the tip of their masks as an act of summoning the deities of the earth to witness their act of faith. This dance is performed as a reminder of impermanence.

Besides above religion dances, there will be a lot of other entertainment programs performed by Atsara, a clown (red laughing mask) and beautiful dance by Royal Academy of Performing Arts (RAPA) which adds more thrill to get self-entertained.

Day 3 Highlights

The Bardo Raksha Mangcham, the dance of Judgment of the dead is a representation of the judgment day after a person dies. It is believed that the departed consciousness of the deceased wanders for 7 weeks. During that intermediary state, the deceased is presented before the Lord of Death where the Black Demon and the White God reports the bad and good deeds of the deceased to the Lord of the Death for the verdict. After an unrelenting debate, the Lord of Death passes the verdict. The sinner is dragged to hell and the spiritual is escorted by Dakinis for a favourable rebirth.

The Dance of Eight Manifestations of Padmasambhava is a biographical dance which represents 8 forms of Guru Padmasambhava where 6 are peaceful and 2 are wrathful forms. The three-day Tsechu concludes with the unfurling of appliqué Thongdrol of Guru Rinpoche. Thongdrol means liberation at sight. There will be a lot of other entertainment programs performed by Atsara, a clown (red laughing mask) and beautiful dance by Royal Academy of Performing Arts (RAPA) which adds more thrill to get self-entertained.

Aside from the main event, the Norzin lam in the capital city of Thimphu gets flooded with local residents drawn to the makeshift market. Vendors sell clothes, food and some organize games to celebrate the festival. Local concerts are performed in the heart of the city at The Clock Tower Square.

Customise/add more sightseeing places, Hiking/trekking and other activities on your Thimphu Tshechu trip to make your trip the most memorable.

Unlike other tours itinerary package, we do not design readymade tour package for Festival tour program, instead, we’ll help you to customise your own tour program mainly depending on your available number of days you want to spend and which areas you wanted to cover besides Tshechu festival. This is because we understand that every traveller is different, some may like to spend their entire holidays in witnessing Tshechu while some would prefer to attend for only 2 days at Tshechu and spend the remaining days in exploring other activities. Hence, we don’t want to run your holidays rather we would love to hear from you and design your holidays which will suit you perfectly. Therefore whether you are a solo traveller, a couple, group of friends or a large group, we are here to help you open the doors to your Himalayan dream according to your taste.

To help you in designing of your festival trip we had provided (click here for customising) a detail information on the various tourist attraction sightseeing spots and hiking & trekking areas which you may want to experience along with the travel distance column. Most of the Tsechu and festival last for minimum 3 days, so we suggest you that, you could spend at least two days to witness Tshechu and spend your remaining holidays period in the sightseeing, trekking and doing other activities. For example; Thimphu Tshechu consist of 3 days, so you may either attend the first opening 2 days or last closing 2 days and spend the remaining days on exploring & hiking Thimphu, Paro and Travel to Punakha for sightseeing.

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Contact us

Tel: +975 7779 3477
Email: info@absolutehappinessbhutan.com

Dazhi Lam road, Kabisa
Thimphu, Bhutan

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