Festivals are held throughout the year in Bhutan. Festivals in Bhutan range from religious to other traditional occasions and bring together families and communities. Most often, festivals are held in temples, monasteries, or Dzongs. Here are some of the more popular festivals in Bhutan:
Tshechu is a religious festival that means the “tenth day” and corresponds to the birth date of Guru Rinpoche. The exact month varies from place to place. Tshechus are usually a grand event, where religious mask dances and Bhutanese dances are performed and people also receive blessings. People attend the Tshechus dressed in their finest to witness the dances and receive blessings. Two of the more popular Tshechus are the Paro and Thimphu Tshechu.
Held in the Paro Dzong, it is one of the most popular festivals lasting three days. A gigantic Buddhist art (Thangkha) of Guru Rinpoche is displayed early in the morning in the Dzong on the third day of the Tshechu. Thangkhas are considered so sacred that simply seeing the Thongdrol is believed to cleanse the sins of the viewers.
The biggest festival in the country is considered to be the Thimphu Tshechu. Held in the capital from the tenth day of the 8th month of lunar calendar, it is held for three consecutive days. The 4th Desi, Gyalse Tenzin Rabgay in 1867, initiated the first Thimphu Tshechu.
Pema Gatshel Tshechu:
Held in Pema Gatshel, in the Eastern part of the country. It is an annual social gathering for people, wearing their finest dresses and enjoying the dances and shows with their family and friends
The Punakha Tshechu is considered one of most important festivals in Punakha. It is held in the Punakha Dzong and presents everyone an opportunity to experience the rich culture of Punakha with its people.
Trongsa Tshechu is a three-day event. It is held at the Trongsa Dzong. You will witness the unraveling of the Thongdrol and the unique mask dances. Also an opportune time to get blessings from high-level monks.
Held in the Wangduephodrang Dzong, the Tshechu is held for three days. This Tshechu is known for the Raksha Mangcham or the Dance of the Ox. This Tshechu also includes the unveiling of an auspicious Thongdrol and is filled with various dances and shows.
Compared to all the other local festivals held in Tashigang, the Tshechu is the most popular and grand. Held in the Tashigang Dzong, it is a three-day event. On the 7th day of the month the monks perform ceremonial ablutions. On the 10th day, a Thongdrol is unveiled amongst the viewers and mask dancers.
Hosted in the eastern part of the country. One of the more popular parts of this Tshechu is the opportunity to see many locals adorned in the attire that Lhuntse is famous for – the Kushithara. The Tshechu brings together the locals and other Bhutanese to celebrate with friends and family, with a chance to get blessings and witness the mask dances amongst other dances.
This is an annual three-day event at the Merak Lhakhang, which provides the locals, the “Brokpas”, a chance to get together in their finest local attire. The Brokpas also perform their rare and local dances known as the Ache Lhamo and the Yak Dance.
The Black-Necked Crane Festival:
To generate awareness in conserving the Blacked-Necked Crane, an annual festival is organized. The festival includes, local folk songs and dances including the mask dance performed by the local community in Phobjikha Valley.
Jumolhari Mountain Festival:
Celebrated at the base of Mr. Jumolhari, it is a community-based initiative to generate awareness on the conservation of snow leopards. It has an added pleasure of hiking up one of the most scenic trekking routes in Bhutan.
Haa Summer Festival:
Located in Haa, it provides an opportunity to live and celebrate with the local community and experience their local culture, heritage, local games, and food. It also gives you an opportunity to dwell amongst the pristine beauty of Haa valley as the festival takes places amongst Haa’s lakes and scenic natural setting.
Held in Chumey in Bumthang. The main relic is a magnificent statue of Guru Rimpoche along with statues of his disciples. An important festival held in this Lhakhang is the Kaling Zhitro Drubchen. Initiated by Doring Trulku, it is held on the fifteenth day of the first month of the Bhutanese calendar. The local Tshechu is also held there once a year on the fifth month of the Bhutanese calendar.
This festival held is held to celebrate the unique culture and traditions of the northern herders. It is an opportunity for all to immerse themselves into the lives of the northern herders and their culture.
Held in the Eastern part of the country, by its local inhibitors called the Brokpas. It is a time where all Brokpas come together to pray and enjoy their culture and traditions. Their local dresses and the dances make this festival lively and colorful.
This is an opportunity to get up-close to the country’s national animal – the Takin. This festival is held in Gasa Dzongkhag, which is famous for its hot springs and is regarded as one of the best places to go trekking.
This is a dance performed during a festival that is held every May in Bumthang. People from all over the country and the locals gather to get blessings from a very rare relic. The dance itself is very unique and a must see for all visitors.
Dochula Druk Wangyel Festival:
Takes place on 13 December every year at the Druk Wangyel Lhakhang located in the Dochula Pass. The Festival and Lhakhang honors the Fourth King, who personally led his troops against the insurgents.
Chorten Kora Festival:
This festival is held in Tashiyangtse, the eastern most part of the country,amnd is performed on the 15th day of the 3rd month. A popular ritual known as the Dakpa Kora is organized every year.
Gomphu Kora Festival:
This name was derived from a cave formed out of a rock face next to the temple that has been built as a tribute to this scared site. The popular attraction of this site is the Kora or circumambulation. The festival is an opportune time to do Kora, dress in your finest national clothing and to offer prayers at this sacred site.
Jambay Lhakhang Festival:
Located in Bumthang, it is one of the oldest Lhakhangs in the country. The main relic inside the temple includes the future Buddha, from whose name the present name of the temple is derived. The highlight of this festival is the fire ritual that is held in the evenings.
This takes place in the Kurjey Temple in Bumthang Dzongkhag. The festival is an important occasion for all Bhutanese. Surrounded by its beauty, the festival involves mask dances and a chance for all to receive blessings.
This festival provides visitors a rare opportunity to taste the Matsutake mushrooms and learn how to harvest them with the locals in Ura. The festival is held on the 4th weekend of August and is hosted in Ura. Visitors will learn to identify the mushrooms while hiking up different trails in a mushroom picking excursions. This is a must do for all visitors to truly immerse yourself in the lives of the locals and take in the majestic views of the Ura Valley.
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