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Tshechu festivals provide the people of remote communities with a wonderful occasion to dress up, gather together and have fun. 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 many cases, impressive masks. At Paro, Wangdu, Mongar and Tashigang, among other places, a large 'thanka' scroll known as a Tongdrol is exhibited 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' (tongdrol in Bhutanese).

Please note that the dates of the festivals change from year to year because they are based on the lunar calendar, which changes against the Gregorian Calendar every year.

Festival Etiquette

Festivals are religious ceremonies and are held on consecrated ground, therefore it is important that respectful conduct be adhered to during these festivals. Please be mindful that the dancers are in a state of meditation; they are assuming the personas of the deities that they are representing. The Tshechu dances bless the people present and also instruct them in Buddhist dharma.

Things to be mindful of are that the dance ground is not a place to drink or smoke, talk too loudly or laugh loudly at inappropriate times. While photography is permitted care should be taken not to intrude upon the dance space as well as to respect local sentiment. Don't be scared of doing everything wrong, just practise common courtesy when attending the festival and in particular when photographing the dancers or onlookers.

Please remember that Bhutan's festivals are not entertainment held as tourist attractions, but are practised as part of an ancient religious tradition. At present outsiders are allowed to attend, however disrespectful behaviour has in the past lead to dismay from the local population as well as criticism. In order to maintain the policy of tourists being allowed to visit Bhutan's festivals, everyone must be mindful of practising common courtesy and that this is a priviledge which can be removed if local people are offended.

Dress Code

Festivals are one occasion where all Bhutanese will dress in their finest clothes! So, of course, the dress code for visitors should also be formal. Full sleeved shirts and long trousers should be worn by men, with women wearing the same or full length dresses (with long sleeves). For men, ties are not necessary and jackets are optional. Inside Dzongs and monasteries hats are not permitted as a rule.

APPROXIMATE FESTIVAL DATES:

Early March  -  Punakha Dromche & Tsechu  (Punakha)
Mid March  -  Chorten Kora  (Trashiyangtse)
Early April  -  Gomkora  (Trashigang)
Early April  -  Chhukha Tsechu  (Chhukha)
Early April  -  Paro Tsechu  (Paro)
Early May  -  Ura Yakchoe  (Bumthang)
Late June/early July  -  Nimalung Tsechu  (Bumthang)
Early July  -  Kurjey Tsechu  (Bumthang)
Late September  -  Wangdue Tsechu  (WangduePhodrang)
Late September  -  Tamshingphala Choepa  (Bumthang)
Late September  -  Thimphu Drupchen  (Thimphu)
Late September  -  Thimphu Tsechu  (Thimphu)
Early October   -  Tangbi Mani  (Bumthang)
Early November  -  Jambay Lhakhang Drup  (Bumthang)
Early November  -  Prakhar Duchhoed  (Bumthang)
Late November  -  Mongar Tsechu  (Mongar)
Late November  -  Trashigang Tsechu  (Trashigang)
Late December  -  Trongsa Tsechu  (Trongsa)
Late December  -  Lhuntse Tsechu  (Lhuntse)  

National Holidays

2 June - Coronation Day
11 November - King’s Birthday
17 December - Bhutan National Day

               ”kimkim