Festivals or Tshechu (“tenth day”) are another major draw card to Bhutan and are held every year in various temples monasteries and dzongs across the country. The Tshechu is mainly a religious event celebrated on tenth day of a month of lunar calendar corresponding to the birth day of Guru Rinpoche (Guru Padmasambhava). However the month of Tshechu depends place to place and temple to temple. Tshechus are large social gatherings where people from various villages come together to witness the religious mask dances which are based on incidents from as long as 8th century from the life of Guru Padmasambhava and to receive blessings from lamas. The event also consists of colorful Bhutanese dances and other entertainments.
It is said that everyone must attend a Tshechu and witness the mask dances at least once to receive the blessings and wash away the sins. Every mask dances performed during Tshechu has a meaning or a story behind. In monasteries the mask dances are performed by monks and in remote villages they are performed jointly by monks and village men. Among many Tshechus in the country most popular are Paro and Thimphu Tshechus in terms of participation and audience. Besides the locals many tourists from across the world are attracted to this unique, colorful and exciting culture.
Traditionally, the Paro and Thimphu have been the most popular but tourists are fast realizing that the smaller more rural festivals are much more intimate.
Date of Festivals
- January 2 – Winter Solstice (Western Bhutan only)
- January 24 – Traditional Day of Offerings (a day to offer food to hungry creatures – celebrated as new year in Eastern Bhutan)
- February 22 -23 – ( Year of the Water Dragon) – New Year (losar)
- February 21-23 (every year) – Birth Anniversary of HM the Fifth King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck
- May 2 (every year) – Birth Anniversary of Third king Jigme Dorji Wangchuck
- May 1 (not fixed) – Shabdrung Kuchoe (commemorates the passing of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1651 CE)
- June 4 (not fixed) – Commemoration of Lord Buddha’s Parnirvana.
- June 29 (not fixed) – Anniversary of the Birth of Guru Rinpoche
- July 23 (not fixed) – The first sermon of Lord Buddha
- September 21 (not fixed) – Thimphu Drubchen (Thimphu Only)
- September 25-27 (not fixed) – Thimphu Tshechu(Thimphu Only)
- September 22 (not fixed) – Blessed Rainy Day
- October 24 (not fixed) – Hindu ceremony of Dashain
- November 1 (not fixed) – Coronation Day of His Majesty the King
- November 6 (not fixed) – Descending Day of Lord Buddha
- November 11 (every year) – Birth Anniversary of HM the fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck
- December 17 (every year) – National day, commemorating the 1907 coronation of the first hereditary king of Bhutan, Ugyen Wangchuck
In addition to the above national holidays, there are also Tshechu holidays which are celebrated regionally.