Bhutan Festivals

Festivals are religious events - manifestations of religious traditions thousands of years old, not tourist spectacle. The grounds where they are held are consecrated and the behaviour of spectators should always keep this in mind. Many of the dancers are monks who, through meditation, transform themselves into the deity they represent on the dance ground.

Obtrusive, disrespectful and discourteous behaviour is offensive - you should not eat, drink, smoke, laugh or talk loudly at inapproprate time, dress skimpily or use flash cameras. Still and video photography should be discrete. Witnessing festivals should be regarded as a privilege and one which the Bhutanese government will revoke if tourism threatens the integrity and sanctity of the rituals.

The tsechu is a festival in honour of Padmasambhava – “ One who was born from a lotus flower,” popularly known under the name of “ Guru Rinpoche,” the Precious Teacher. This Indian saint contributed enormously to the diffusion of Tantric Buddhism in the Himalayan regions of Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan etc. around 800 AD. He is the founder of Nyingmapa, the “old school” of Lamaism, which still has numerous followers. The biography of Guru Rinpoche is highlighted by 12 episodes on the model of the Buddha Sakyamuni life. “The Tsechu” which has become the name of a popular festival commemorates each episode around the year on the 10th day of the month. The dates and the duration of the festival vary from one district to another but they always take place on or around the 10th day of the month according to the Bhutanese calendar.
Bhutanese religious dances are called cham. Dancers wear spectacular costumes made of yellow silk or rich brocade often decorated with ornaments of carved bone. For certain dances, they wear masks, which may represent animals, fearsome deities, skulls, manifestation of Guru Rimpoche or just the simple human beings.
During Tsechus, the dances are performed by monks as well as by laymen. The Tsechu is a religious festival and attending it, it is believed one gains merits. It is also a yearly social gathering where the people come together to rejoice dressed in all their finery.

Festival Dates 2016

Punakha Tsechu: 17-19 february, 2016
Paro Tsechu: 20-24 March, 2016
Nimalung Tshechu - Bumthang: 1-15 June, 2016
Thimphu Tshechu: 07 September, 2016
Jambay Lhakhang Drup, Bumthang: 66-19 October, 2016
Prakhar Tshechu, Bumthang: 16-18 October, 2016
Black Neck Crane Festival, WandguPhodrang:
Mongar Tshechu: 06-09 November, 2016
Trongsa Tshechu: 08-10 December 2016