About Bhutanese Festivals
In addition to the standard Buddhist festivals, there are yearly festivals celebrated with great fanfare in each district. The most renowned of these are the Tsechu (10th day) festivals, commemorating Padmasambhava, locally referred to as ‘Guru Rimpoche’ this eighth century master, introduced the Nyingma school of Buddhism in Bhutan. Most festivals lasts from three to five days – one of which, usually, falls on the 10th day of the lunar calendar.
The regional Dzong and remote village communities hold their distinct annual Tsechu festival, providing the local populace with a wonderful occasion to dress up, gather together, and enjoy, in a convivial light-hearted atmosphere. It is also an occasion to renew their faith and receive blessings by watching the sacred dances, or receiving ’empowerment’ from a lama or Buddhist monk.
The dances, each aspect of which has a symbolic meaning, are performed by trained monks and laymen wearing ornate costumes, and, in some cases, impressive masks. At Paro, Wangdu, Mongar and Tashigang, among other places, a large ‘thanka’ scroll known as a Tongdrol is exhihited for a few hours, at day break of the final day of the festival, enabling the people to obtain its blessing, since such scrolls confer liberation by the mere sight of it.