Thimphu Tshechu ends to­day

Bhutan Times - - Front Page - An­jana Subba

The an­nual Tshechu is held in the cap­i­tal city for three days be­gin­ning on 10th day of the 8th month of lu­nar cal­en­dar. The Tshechu is wit­nessed by thou­sands of peo­ple many of which travel as far as Trashigang to at­tend the fes­tiv­i­ties. The ac­tual Tshechu is pre­ceded by days and nights of prayer and rit­u­als to in­voke the gods.

When it was ini­ti­ated by the 4th Desi, Gyalse Ten­zin Rab­gay in 1867 the Tshechu con­sisted of only a few dances be­ing per­formed strictly by monks. Th­ese were the Zhana ch­ham and the Zhana Nga ch­ham (Dances of the 21 Black Hats), Durdag (Dance of the Lords of the Cre­ma­tion Ground), and the Tungam ch­ham (Dance of the Terrifying Deities).

The Thimphu Tshechu un­der­went a change in the 1950s, when the third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, in­tro­duced nu­mer­ous Boed chhams (mask dances per­formed by lay monks). Th­ese ad- di­tions added colour and vari­a­tion to the fes­ti­val with­out com­pro­mis­ing its spir­i­tual sig­nif­i­cance. Mask dances like the Guru Tshengye (Eight Man­i­fes­ta­tions of Guru), Shaw Shachi (Dance of the Stags) are en­joyed be­cause they are sim­i­lar to stage-theater.

Equally im­por­tant are the At­saras, who are more than just mere clowns. The At­saras are the dupthobs (acharyas), who pro­vide pro­tec­tion. The dances and the jest­ing of the At­saras are be­lieved to en­trance evil forces and pre­vent them from caus­ing harm dur­ing Tshechus. Mod­ern At­saras also per­form short skits to dis­sem­i­nate health and so­cial aware­ness mes­sages.

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