An intrinsic part of Bhutan’s tradition and culture, Tsechus (religious festivals) are performed all around the country at different periods. Literally, Tshechu means the “Tenth Day” and is observed on the tenth day of a month corresponding to the lunar calendar, the birthday of Guru Rimpoche (Guru Padmasambhava).
The origin can be traced back to the 8th century, wherein Guru Padma Sambhava and the Abbot Shanti Rakshita, introduced the dances and performed it when the first Buddhist temple was constructed at Samye in Tibet. It is said that through the performance of the dances, spirits living in the vicinity of the temple were subdued.
Tsechus increased in variety and number with followers of Guru Rimpoche, especially treasure revealers (Tertons) and other enlightened masters, discovering instructions for such sacred dances, believed to be written by Guru Rimpoche and concealed in different places.
Every dance has a meaning and is a story narrated as the dances progress. Most are associated with the subduing of evil forces and in essence, speaks of the triumph of the good over evil.
From the secular point of view, Tsechus have social significances as it brings communities together, partaking in merrymaking, adorned in their best attires. People forget their mundane farm lives and celebrate.
While there are scores of Tsechus performed in various parts of the country at different times, we provide you an insight into some of the most popular ones. Your trips can be customised to include the Tsechus, along with other packages. Thus, the total duration does not reflect the number of days of the Tsechus, but is the total duration required if you plan a trip during the festival time.
Festivals or Tshechu (“tenth day”) are festivals held every year in various temples, monasteries and dzongs across Bhutan. It is mainly a religious event celebrated on the 10th day of the month of Lunar Calendar corresponding to the birthday of Guru Padmasambhava, an 8th century Buddhist teacher.
Tshechu is not simply a festival conducted for entertainment; it is a series of sacred events choreographed to promote happiness yet with the intent to ultimately cultivate an enlightened mind in all attendees. The festival is a sacred event conducted by fully ordained monks and enlightened masters.
Chhams or “Religious Mask Dances” are usually performed during
Tshechus, mainly to convey religious messages to the people. Some were composed by Guru Rinpoche and others by Tertoen Pema Lingpa, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel and other great saints. During the mask dances, the deities of the tantric teachings are invoked and through their power and blessings, misfortunes are removed. All evil spirits are suppressed so that the doctrine of the Buddha flourish and bring joy and happiness to all sentient beings.