Tshechu is a religious festival meaning “tenth day” held annually in various temples, monasteries, and dzongs throughout the country. The Tshechu is a religious event celebrated on the tenth day of a month of the lunar calendar corresponding to the birthday of Guru Rimpoche (Guru Padmasambhava). However, the exact month of the Tshechu varies from place to place and temple to temple. Tshechus are grand events where entire communities come together to witness religious mask dances, receive blessings and socialize. In addition to the mask dances, tshechus also include colorful Bhutanese dances and other forms of entertainment.

It is believed that everyone must attend a Tshechu and witness the mask dances at least once to in order to receive blessings and wash away their sins. Every mask dance performed during a Tshechu has a special meaning or a story behind it and many are based on stories and incidents from as long ago as the 8th century, during the life of Guru Padmasambhava. In monasteries, the mask dances are performed by monks and in remote villages, they are performed jointly by monks and village men. Two of the most popular Tshechus in the country is the Paro and Thimphu Tshechus in terms of participation and audience. Besides the locals, many tourists from across the world are attracted to these unique, colorful and exciting displays of traditional culture.

Thimphu Tsechu

One of the biggest festivals in the country is the Thimphu Tshechu. This festival is held in the capital city for three days. The Tshechu is witnessed by thousands of people, both local and tourists. The actual Tshechu is preceded by days and nights of prayer and rituals to invoke the gods. Mask dances like the Guru Tshengye (Eight Manifestations of Guru Rinpoche), Shaw Shachi (Dance of the Stags) and many more are performed.

 Start Date: Sep 19, 2018

End Date: Sep 21, 2018

Destination: Thimphu

Venue: Tashi Chhodzong

Paro Tsechu

The Paro Tsechu is the most spectacular and deeply symbolic of the Buddhist festivals celebrated in Bhutan. Devotees dressed in traditional finery flock to the Paro Dzong monastic fortress to bear witness to their Buddhist faith and receive blessings. The festival has three parts: the “Pre-festival” on the first day, ceremonies inside the Paro Dzong on the second day, and the main festivities on the festival ground on the remaining three days. For the devout, the highlight undoubtedly occurs on the final day when a huge religious picture (thongdrel) is unfurled at dawn. To witness this event is to gain great merit. This festival is held in Rinpung Dzong which is arguably among the most distinctive and important structures in Bhutan. Rinpung Dzong is the headquarters of the Paro district, housing the head administrator and staff, as well as the monastic body with about 200 monks.

 Start Date: Mar 17, 2019

End Date: Mar 21, 2019

Destination: Paro

Venue: Rinpung Dzong

Druk Wangyel / Dochula Tshechu

The Druk Wangyel Tshechu is a unique festival performed by the Royal Bhutan Army rather than monks or lay people. It is a tribute to the wise leadership of His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the Fourth King of Bhutan. It also celebrates the continuous efforts of the Royal Bhutan Army in protecting the sovereignty and the stability of the country. This one of a kind tshechu is performed against the backdrop of the magnificent Jigme Singye Wangchuck mountain range.

 Start Date: Dec 13, 2018

End Date: Dec 13, 2018

Destination: Thimphu

Venue: Dochula

Wangdue Tsechu

The festival is held in Wangduephodrang and is observed for three days in the autumn season. The Tshechu is well known for the Raksha Mangcham or the dance of the Ox. Many different kinds of mask dances are performed during the festival. It concludes with the unfurling of the Guru Tshengye Thongdrol.

Start Date: Sep 17, 2018

End Date: Sep 19, 2018

Destination: Wangdue Phodrang

Venue: Tencholing Army Ground

Punakha Tsechu

The Punakha Tshechu is one of the most popular Tshechus in the country. It is held right after the popular Punakha Drubchen. The unfurling of the thongdrol (a large tapestry) of Guru Rinpoche is the main attraction of the festival. It is believed that a mere sight of the thongdrol liberates an onlooker and cleanses him of his sins.

Start Date: Feb 15, 2019

End Date: Feb 17, 2019

Destination: Punakha

Venue: Punakha Dzong

Black-Necked Crane Festival

The annual Black-Necked Crane festival is celebrated at the courtyard of Gangtey Goenpa in Phobjikha valley. The festival is an occasion for the locals to rejoice and celebrate the arrival of this endangered and majestic bird which becomes an inseparable part of their daily lives during the winter months. The annual black-necked crane festival is organized to generate awareness and understanding on the importance of conserving the endangered Black-Necked Cranes. The festival includes cultural programs such as folk songs and dances (some with black-necked crane themes) and mask dances performed by the local people, crane dances and environmental conservation-themed dramas and songs by school children.

Start Date: Nov 11, 2018

End Date: Nov 11, 2018

Destination: Wangdue Phodrang

Venue: Gangtey Goenpa, Phobjikha

Trongsa Tsechu

The Trongsa Dzong is one of the grandest Bhutanese monuments. It is built on a ridge & has a very beautiful structure with more than 30 temples. The “watchtower” or the Ta Dzong, overlooking the Dzong on a ridge above the Dzong has a temple to Gesar. The Trongsa tshechu, one of the oldest tshechus in Bhutan. It is believed that tshechus in other parts of Bhutan was spread from Trongsa Dzongkhag. All the chams/dances are just like regular tshechu of other Dzongkhags (Rang lug gi Cham). On the last day, a Thongdrol is unfurled.

Start Date: Dec 15, 2018

End Date: Dec 18, 2018

Destination: Trongsa

Venue: Trongsa Dzong

Jakar Tsechu

The Jakar Dzong or “the Dzong of the white bird” is perched on the hillock overlooking Chamkhar town & places surrounding it. The interesting thing about the Dzong is that there is a water tower four stairs down behind the Dzong leading to a water reservoir used for drawing water during battle times in olden days. The three-day festival displays several sacred mask dances. The festival also hosts different types of folk songs and dances. People visit the festival dressed in their finest clothes and the festival is also popular among tourists.

Start Date: Oct 16, 2018

End Date: Oct 20, 2018

Destination: Bumthang

Venue: Jakar Dzong

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