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Colourful Festivals In Bhutan

The religious festival, which means “tenth day” held annually in various temples, monasteries and dzongs throughout the country. This colorful religious event celebrated on the tenth day of a month of the lunar calendar corresponding to the birth anniversary of Guru Rinpoche and other permanent religious leader. The festivals in the Land of the Thunder Dragon are rich and happy expressions of its ancient Buddhist culture. Festival are grand events where entire communities come together to witness religious mask dances, receive blessings and socialize. It is believed that every Bhutanese people must attend a festival and witness the mask dances at least once to in order to receive blessings and wash away their sins. Every mask dance performed during the Tshechu has a special meaning and story behind it and many are based on stories and incidents as long as the eight century. The local Bhutanese people come to witness the religious festival, dress in their finest cloths and most resplendent jewelry of coral and turquoise. They pack picnic lunches in their traditional bamboo baskets and stay all day at the festival, which are usually held in the dzong and monasteries.


Festival Date : 2017-05-12 to 2017-05-12

Venue : Drametse Lhakhang, Drametse, Bumthang

The Drametse Tshechu held in Drametse Lhakhang in Mongar is one among the most important festival in eastern Bhutan. It was here in this region where the popular Drametse Nga Chham (Dance of the Drums from Drametse) was born. Today this sacred and highly revered dance has been displayed in almost all the festival held in the country. This mask dance of Drametse was selected as one of the 80 global masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2005 by UNNESCO. The dance is a dramatization of the dance performed in Zangtopelri, the Copper Colored Palace of Guru Rinpoche. Apart from the revered sacred dance, there are several religious mask dances and cultural dances were also highlighted during the three day festival. People from all occupations come to witness these sacred dances during the festival of Drametse. 


Festival Date : 2017-07-05 to 2017-07-06

Venue : Lhakhang Karpo, Haa

The annual Haa Tshechu is one of the biggest festivals in Haa districts and was newly introduced in the year 1990s. The festival last for three days and during these three days numerous unique mask dances, cultural traditional dances and other religious activities were performed by both lay monk and community people. The main highlight of the festival is on the third and final day where the illustrious thongdrol (large tapestry) of Guru Rinpoche is unfurled for the people to receive blessings. Thousands of people come to witness this annual festival of Haa and people from neighboring districts like Paro and Thimphu comes to attend the festival. 


Festival Date : 2017-09-26 to 2017-09-29

Venue : Thimphu Dzong, Thimphu

Thimphu Drubchen, held inside Trashichhoe Dzong in the capital Thimphu, is one of the most popular three-day festivals. The popular Thimphu Drubchen precedes the grand three-day Thimphu Tshechu festival. During the Thimphu drubchen people from all around Thimphu comes to witness the festival. The Drubchen highlights the sacred dances dedicated to the protecting deity of Bhutanm Pelden Lhamo. 


Festival Date : 2017-09-28 to 2017-09-30

Venue : Wangdue Dzong, Wangduephodrang

Wangduephodrang in western Bhutan is located in the southern part of Punakha. The region of Wangdue is known for its bamboo work, slates and stone carving. It is an important gateway to the far-flung province of central and eastern Bhutan. The magnificently stretched fortress atop the hillside above the confluence of Dang Chhu River and Punatsang Chhu River built  in 1639 is the center of the government and the religious center of Wangdue district. Wangdue is the region known for ‘Lozay’ or the ornamental speeches. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel initially introduced the three-day annual festival held in the autumn month after the completion of the dzong in 1639. This festival is known for Raksha Marcham or the dance of the ox. There are many other mask dances and religious folk dances were performed both by local monks and nonprofessional from the region. This popular festival of Wangdue is witnessed by people from all over the region and attended by people from neighboring districts of Punakha, Thimphu and Paro. In the final day, the festival is concluded with the unfurling Thongdrel of Guru Tshengye where people come to receive blessing and pray for the wellbeing of their life.


Festival Date : 2017-09-30 to 2017-10-02

Venue : Thimphu Dzong, Thimphu

Among numerous festivals celebrated in the country, the Thimphu Tshechu (Festival) stands as the grand festival giving you the clear insights of the traditional colorful festival of Bhutan. This colorful festival is held in Tashichhoe Dzong (Tendrelthang) for three days and it was witnessed by thousands of people both local and tourist alike. During the festival both religious monks and layman join together to perform mask dances and other religious activities to commemorate the life of 8th century saint Guru Rinpochhe and other religious masters of the past who played the key role in creating the religious history of Bhutan. During this grand event the entire community both young and old religious minded people come together to witness the three day religious mask dance and to receive blessings and more over it’s time for the local people to socialize. Beside this mask dance other religious folk song and dances were also performed. This grand Thimphu festival is seen by the local people of Thimphu and other neighboring district people as a means of receiving blessing and pray for their health and happiness.


Festival Date : 2017-10-01 to 2017-10-01

Venue : Jigme Dorji Wangchuk National Park, Gasa

The Takin Festival is your once in a lifetime opportunity to get an up close look at Bhutan’s national animal, the Takin (Budorcas taxicolor) in their native summer grazing grounds. Despite being a rare and endangered species around the world, there are still thriving populations of this majestic animal in Bhutan. You won’t want to miss this chance to admire their unique physique and natural agility. The festival is set in Gasa Dzongkhag within Jigme Dorji National Park, the second largest national preserve in the country. The park encompasses areas that are rich in temperate biodiversity and medicinal plants. This picturesque area offers spectacular views of awe-inspiring natural beauty where you find a treasured heritage that has nurtured environmental conservation for generations. At the festival you’ll have the opportunity to engage in some of the finest trekking available anywhere in the world, bathe in soothing mineral hot-spring baths, see and purchase exquisitely crafted local handicrafts including yak wool tents, dresses and carpets, bamboo and leather products and much more. Sample some of the delicious local cuisine as you sit around a traditional stone hearth used by the nomads for generations.


Festival Date : 2017-11-11 to 2017-11-11

Venue : Gangtey Goemba, Phobjikha, Wangdue

The annual Black-necked Crane festival is held in Gangtay Goemba in glacier Phobjikha Valley under Wangdue Phodrang. The glacier Phobjikha Valley is one of the most visited tourist site in the country, which adds the natural charm with the visit of Black-necked Crain in the winter months. The region is the winter home of the Black-necked Cranes that migrates from the arid plains of Tibet. The annual Black-necked Crane festival is celebrated on the 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 festival celebration is organized to generate awareness and understanding on the importance of conserving the endangered black-necked crane; to strengthen the linkages between conservation, economic welfare, and sustainable livelihoods of the community; provide an avenue for the local community to renew their commitment to conservation of the black-necked cranes, and to display their cultural heritage and skills. With the theme of black-necked crane, the festival portrays various colorful mask dances, cultural folk dances and songs.


Festival Date : 2018-02-22 to 2018-02-24

Venue : Punakha Dzong, Punakha

The Punakha Drubchen or Festival is one among the popular festival held in the country. It not only gives you a chance to witness the mask dance and other religious folk dance and songs, but more importantly, this unique festival plays the dramatic recreational scene from the 17th century battle with Tibetan army. During the festival the ‘pazap’ or traditional military armies dressed in traditional military gear plays the important role as they override in proving their authority and power. This festival provides more insights into the ancient historical culture traditions and the biographical scene of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel and his activities in bringing the people together as one unified nation. The festival is witnessed by thousands of people both from the region and from the neighboring districts like Wangdue, Thimphu and Paro. It is also one of the noted events for the international visitors. The Drubchen reflect the richness of the Bhutanese cultural heritage and plays an important role in preserving its rich culture and traditional values. 


Festival Date : 2018-02-25 to 2018-02-27

Venue : Punakha Dzong, Punakha

The unique Punakha Tshechu which falls after Punakha Drubchen was introduced very recently as 2005 by 70thJe Khenpo Trulku Jigme Choedra and the then HomeMinister His excellency Lyonpo Jigme Y Thinley. The tshechu was introduced in response to the requests made by Punakha District Administration and local people to host better preserve Buddhist teachings and keep alive the noble deeds of Zhabdrung Rinpoche. Today it is one of the most popular festival in the country. The tshechu is held right after the popular recreational drubchen. Te festival is witnessed by thousands of people from all around the country and most importantly the final and last day is the most highlights of the festival, where the giant unfurling of thongdrol (a large tapestry) of Guru Rinpoche is hung on the wall of Utse where thousands of people come to pay respect and receive blessing. It is believed that the mere sight of the thongdrol liberates an outlooker and cleanses him or her from their sins. The festival plays an important role in preserving the country’s rich culture and traditions. It reflects the richness of the Bhutanese cultural heritage and is very special in the eyes and hearts of both Bhutanese and tourists who wish toexplore the grand Punakha Tshechu. The tshechu also provides devotees with an opportunity for prayer and pilgrimage.


Festival Date : 2018-03-24 to 2018-03-26

Venue : Gasa Dzong, Gasa

The annually held Gasa Tshechu is one of the most important and biggest festival held in Gasa Dzong in Gasa. The region is one of the small districts in the country with few habitants. It is the region of the highlanders’ communities. During this annual festival the people of Gasa, along with the nomadic people of Laya and Lunana come together to celebrate this grand event. The festival displays numerous mask dances, highlanders’ cultural dance and local cultural folk dance. Visitors wishing to participate in this festival can also experience the medicinal Gasa Hot Spring (Tshachu).


Festival Date : 2018-03-27 to 2018-03-31

Venue : Paro Dzong, Paro

The Paro Tshechu is one of the biggest and most crowded festival in the country. The duration of Paro festival last for five days, with two days held in Paro Dzong and the last three days is celebrated in the open courtyard ground of Paro. It has been held annually since the 17th century when Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, the founder of the state of Bhutan, and Penpo Rigzin Nyingpo initiated the festival together with the consecration of Paro Dzong in 1644. During this five days festival, several sacred mask dances were displayed to the people along with numerous cultural dances and songs. Thousands of people witness this festival from Paro, Thimphu and Haa and even from faraway neighboring districts. Bhutanese from all walks of life joins the resident of Paro in the best finery to attend the five-day festival of Paro. During the last day, the giant Thongdrol (gigantic scroll painting) was displayed for the people to receive blessings.


Festival Date : 2018-04-15 to 2018-04-17

Venue : Lamperi Botanical Park, Thimphu

Seeing and photographing wild flowers of Bhutan in their native habitat is always exciting and Bhutan is a land of boundless and beautiful forest filled with dazzling tropical blooms to delicate alpine flowers. The natural forest and valleys holds the best of the great variety of flowers, which the eastern Himalaya is famous for. The country also boasts more than 46 different species of rhododendrons and variety of rare orchids, magnolias, Daphne, blue poppy, etc. Truly, Bhutan is home to diverse wild flowers. The rhododendron festival held in Lamperi Botanical Garden celebrates the rhododendron flowers. The three days festival highlights different species of rhododendron flowers that are in full bloom in their natural habitat. Of the 46 different species of rhododendron recorded in the country, 29 species are found in Lamperi Botanical Park. During the festival, several other activities were conducted including garden walk and exhibition, local culture and cuisines, arts and crafts. 

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