Trashigang Tsechu starts off with 244-year-old cham

Business Bhutan - - Nation - Jigme Wangchen

from Trashigang

The four-day Trashigang Tsechu, which be­gan yes­ter­day drew a crowd hun­dreds from 15 gewogs across the dzongkhag as well as oth­ers.

The tsechu started with the an­cient dance of lo­cal deities, doe-gay-bak-cham, which now en­ters its 244th year.

Bakcham was led by Jaro Dongchen, the heart son (thuk­sey) of Yeshey Goenpo, the pro­tect­ing de­ity of Bhutan and the Bakcham was per­formed by 27 mask dancers rep­re­sent­ing var­i­ous lo­cal deities.

Ac­cord­ing to Lopen Karma Choeda, due to ren­o­va­tion works at the dzong since 2014, the an­nual tsechu was per­formed at Trashigang mid­dle sec­ondary school’s foot­ball ground for the last four years.

How­ever, he said that the doe-gay-bak-cham (Bakcham) is so sa­cred that it is for­bid­den to per­form out­side the cor­ri­dors of the dzong. “We first per­form Bakcham in the dzong and then con­tinue the tsechu at the school ground dur­ing the time of dzong ren­o­va­tion,” said Lopen Karma Choeda.

He said that un­like other chams, the dance of the lo­cal deities must not leave the cor­ri­dors of the dzong. “The dance rep­re­sents the once fierce de­mons who wreaked havoc and cre­ated dis­or­der among the peo­ple, fi­nally brought un­der the con­trol and made the pro­tec­tors of the land by the spir­i­tual masters,” said Karma Choeda. “It is one of the most sa­cred chams per­formed dur­ing the Trashigang tsechu.”

Fur­ther, Lopen said that the op­por­tu­nity to wit­ness the Bakcham a rare and sa­cred op­por­tu­nity for the pub­lic as the masks and the cus­toms of the deities are taken out only once a year. “Along with 25 guardian deities from across the coun­try, the lo­cal de­ity of Trashigang, Garab Wangchuk and an­other de­ity Tawangpa, also fea­tures in the cham.”

Karma Choeda said that a sim­i­lar cham with the same name is also per­formed dur­ing tsechus in Trongsa, Lhuentse and Paro. The sa­cred Bakcham is per­formed for al­most three hours.

A res­i­dent from Trashigang said that ever since the tsechu was con­ducted at the school ground, the an­nual event has be­come more of an en­ter­tain­ment. “How­ever, we are glad that this year, the tsechu is be­ing con­ducted in the dzong af­ter four years and the charm of wit­ness­ing a tsechu in the dzong is to­tally dif­fer­ent.”

Ad­di­tion­ally, he said that he never misses a chance to wit­ness the sa­cred Bakcham as the cham has rich moral val­ues and unique­ness. “Peo­ple from as far as Sam­drup Jongkhar come to wit­ness the sa­cred cham.”

Lopen Karma Choeda, said that dur­ing the four­day tsechu, thong­drol of Neten Chu­drug (six­teen Arhats), is un­furled and on the fi­nal day of the tsechu, the thong­drol of Guru Tshengyed is also dis­played.

Mean­while, for the re­li­gious, the fes­ti­val is a time to gain merit and bless­ings, while for the busi­ness-minded, it is also a time to earn some good money.

Among more than 40 shop­keep­ers who trav­elled to Trashigang is a shop owner, Kuenga Sam­drup from Sam­drupjongkhar. The 40-year-old said he is a reg­u­lar shop­keeper in all 20 dzongkhags dur­ing tsechus and other cel­e­bra­tions.

“I go with my goods wher­ever there are fes­ti­vals and oc­ca­sions. I started mov­ing around the coun­try since 2010,” he said. “Tsechu and other fes­ti­vals are op­por­tu­ni­ties to make good money.”

A to­tal of 42 plots were di­vided at the archery range and the shop­keep­ers were given lim­ited space so that ev­ery­one could get a space to pitch their stalls this year.

This year, with the ren­o­va­tion and con­ser­va­tion works of the dzong com­pleted, the dzongkhag’s an­nual tsechu is be­ing held in the 359-year-old dzong af­ter four years.

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