Bhutan Festival Tour - 0 day

Trip Overview

Duration: 0 day Country: Bhutan
Max. Altitude: 250m. Walking Per Day: -
Accommodation: N/A Grade: Easy
Best Season: N/A Group Size: N/A
Mode: N/A Culture: N/A

Religious festivals are very numerous and have different names according to their types. The best known are the ‘tsechus’, which are festivals in honour of Guru Rinpoche, commemorating one of his great deeds. These great deeds are all believed to have taken place on the 10th day of the month; which is the meaning of the word ‘tsechu’. Even though all tsechus do not in practice, take place on the 10th days. All the district Dzongs and a large number of villages, especially in the east, have an annual tsechu which attracts peasants from the surrounding countryside.

Bhutanese celebrates Tsechus for several days, between three and five according to the location. And are the occasion for dances that religious content clearly defines. They can be performed by monks, laymen or gomchens and the repertory is the same practically everywhere. Certain tsechus end with the worship of a huge appliqué thanka representing Guru Rinpoche and his eight manifestations. Such a thanka is called ‘thongdrel’ which means people can be delivered from the cycle of reincarnations simply by viewing it. Some tsechus also have a wang, a collective verbal blessing given by a high monk. Then distributes colourful threads and people tie them around their necks as a witness to the blessing. The wang is often called ‘mewang’, meaning ‘blessing by fire’; as the participants jump over a fire which burns away their impurities.

Atsaras are clowns whose expressive masks and postures are an indispensable element in any religious festival: they confront the monks, toss out salacious jokes, and distract the crowd with their antics when the religious dances begin to grow tedious. Believed to represent the acaryas, religious masters of India, they are the only people with permitted to mock religion in a society where sacred matters are treated with the highest respect. For a few days, they allow these popular entertainers the freedom to express a formulaic challenge within an established framework that does not, however, upset the social and religious order.

Some religious festivals include only a few dances and consist mostly of readings from a particular text. On these occasions, villagers assemble in the temple and participate in the prayers while at the same time drinking strong alcoholic beverages. Each village takes pride in its annual religious festival, whether it includes dances or simply prayers. And any villager who has gone to live in the city, they expected them to come back home for it. He will then sponsor a large part of the festival.

For the Bhutanese, religious festivals offer an opportunity to become immersed in the meaning of their religion and to gain merit. They are also occasions for seeing people, and for being seen; for social exchanges, and for flaunting success. People bring out their finest clothes, their most beautiful jewels; they take out picnics rich with meat and abundant alcohol. Men and women joke and flirt. An atmosphere of convivial, slightly ribald good humour prevails.


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