Festivals in the Land of the Thunder Dragon are rich and happy expressions of its ancient Buddhist culture. Festivals or Tshechus (“tenth day”) are a rich form of the oral history tradition where the Bhutanese pass on values, mythology and spiritual beliefs through dance dramas. These religious dances known as chhams are the core event of monastic festivals and are performed by monks to the music of monastic orchestra.
Many of the tsechus culminate with a rare display of a giant silk applique thangkha (painting) depicting Guru Rinpoche, the saint who introduced Buddhism to Bhutan in the 8th century or some other important Buddhist deity.
Festivals are also a big family and social occasion. People dress up in their finest clothes and most resplendent jewelry of coral and turquoise. They pack picnic lunches in their traditional bamboo baskets and stay all day at the festivals which are usually held in the dzongs (fortresses) or at monasteries.
People’s deep faith and devotion make these festivals a special occasion. At the same time, it is also an opportunity to join hundreds, and even thousands, of Bhutanese in taking part in an important religious and social occasion that often exudes a carnival atmosphere.