A fes­tive sea­son ahead

Bhutan Times - - Editorial -

Peo­ple in the cap­i­tal are look­ing for­ward for fes­tive sea­sons ahead. The mon­soon has just said good­bye and with the beau­ti­ful weather around its time for cel­e­bra­tion. We have just fin­ished the Thim­phu Drub­choe yes­ter­day and we are all look­ing for­ward for col­or­ful Thim­phu Tshechu ahead.

One of the big­gest fes­ti­vals in the coun­try is the Thim­phu Tshechu. This fes­ti­val is held in the cap­i­tal city for three days be­gin­ning on 10th day of the 8th month of lu­nar calendar. The Tshechu at­tracts thou­sands of peo­ple many of which travel from neigh­bor­ing Dzongkhags to at­tend the fes­tiv­i­ties. The ac­tual Tshechu is pre­ceded by days and nights of prayer and rit­u­als to in­voke the gods.

Peo­ple in the best at­tire would folk to the Ten­drel Thang with their fam­i­lies and friends to cel­e­brate and get to­gether. The high­light of Thim­phu Tsechu is the show­case of eth­nic folk dances and sa­cred mask dances per­formed by the dancers from the Royal Academy of Per­form­ing Arts and the cen­tral monas­tic body. The court yard of the Ten­drel Thang will be flooded by the tourist and lo­cal peo­ple who have come to wit­ness the tra­di­tion­ally de­signed col­or­ful masks dances.

Es­sen­tially a re­li­gious event, Thim­phu Tshechu holds spir­i­tual sig­nif­i­cance for the peo­ple of Bhutan who crowd the streets of Thim­phu dur­ing that time of the year.

When the dancers move to the beats of the drums and cym­bals, the whole at­mos­phere wears a ce­les­tial look. This pious event was be­lieved to be orig­i­nated in the year 1670 dur­ing the reign of Ten­zin Rab­gye. Since that time, Thim­phu Tsechu oc­cu­pied a ma­jor part in the Bhutan so­cial his­tory.

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 ad­di­tions 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 stageth­e­ater.

To farm­ers, the Tshechu is also seen as a break from farm life. It’s an oc­ca­sion to cel­e­brate, re­ceive bless­ings and pray for health be­sides the an­nual three day Tshechu.

As we go back home after his event­ful oc­ca­sion, we pray to meet next year and take care the trash too.

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