Thimphu Tshechu brings communities together
Thimphu Tshechu is very significant annual event that brings together entire communities to witness religious and colorful traditional dances, receive blessings and to socialize.
Thousands of people from across the country and many tourists attended the festival this year. People were dressed in their finest clothes and their families mix around and are a part of this ground spectacular occasion reveling in their packed lunches.
On 11 October, Sa Chog Zhana 21, Zhana Nga cham, Kel Cham, Pholay Molay and Gyalp Gyelm, Dramitse Nga cham and Shaow Tha ley Toen Ni were performed by Central Monastic Body (CMB) and Royal Academy of Performing Arts (RAPA).
On 12 October, Durdag Cham followed by Tung Ngam Cham, Raksha Go Cham and Raksha Mang Cham were performed for the public.
Similarly, on 8 October, Ser Dreng Ber Kor, Guru Tshengay Ku Cham, Pa Cham, Ringma Chudru (Ngachu), Durdag Cham, Tshogling Cham, Ringma Chudru (Pachu), Pawa Yuel Dhu Zhug Pi Cham, Pawa Mag Zing Gi Cham and Pawa Yuel La Gyalyi Cham were performed by CMB, RAPA and Royal Bhutan Army.
The most popular dances performed during the festival were Shaw Shachi (Dance of the stags) and Guru Tshengye (Eight Manifestations of Guru) among others.
The festival is preceded by days and nights of prayer and rituals to invoke the gods.
During Thimphu Tshechu, the mask dances and folk dances are performed to bless the spectators to teach the Buddhist dharma, to protect them from misfortune and to exorcise all evil.
Witnessing the dances and receiving blessings is believed to remove sin and take one closer towards attending nirvana or enlightenment.
It is also believed that one gains merit by attending these festivals. The dances invoke the deities to wipe out misfortunes, increase good luck and grant personal wishes.
In addition to the mask dances, the Tshechu presents colorful Bhutanese dances and other forms of entertainment. RAPA and Thimphu Dzongkhag perform traditional dances followed by mask dances.
Every mask dance performed during an occasion has a special meaning or a story based on the religion.
Thimphu Tshechu was initiated by the 4th Desi ( regent), Gyalse Tenzin Rabgay, in 1867. There were only few dances then performed strictly by monks which were Zhana Cham, Zhana Nga Cham, Durdag, and Tungam Cham.
However, in the 1950s, the third Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuck introduced many Boed Cham, a mask dances performed by lay monks.
The classical dances in Bhutan are reflected in the religious mask pageants and ritual dances. The Tshechu is held in honor of the great Guru Rinpoche, who introduced Buddhism to Bhutan in the 8th century.
The scared Thongdrol of Guru Rinpoche is unfurled early in the morning on the last day of the tshechu. It is believed that the Thongdrol is unveiled at dawn to bring blessings to all the viewers.
Thimphu Tshechu is one of the biggest festivals in the country and the annual tshechu was held at Tendrel Thang of Tashichhodzong in Thimphu. The festival was held after a threeday annual Thimphu drubchen.