Be Awe-Inspired By The ‘Dance Of The Terrifying Gods’ And More At The Thimphu Tshechu Which Starts On 19 Sept
Held from 19 to 21 Sept 2018, the annual Thimphu Tshechu (festival) is a vibrant visual feast for both locals and foreigners.
By Zann Huizhen Huang | Bhutan Times
Held from 19 to 21 Sept 2018, the annual Thimphu Tshechu (festival) is a vibrant visual feast for both locals and foreigners. Tshechu is a religious event celebrated on the tenth day of a certain month of the Bhutanese Buddhist calendar annually. The exact month of the Tschechu differs from dzongkhag (district) to dzongkhag and from lhakhang (temple) to llakhang.
Source: Padmasambhava Guru Rinpoche
Tshechu, meaning ‘tenth day’ also corresponds to the birthday of Guru Rinpoche (Guru Padmasambhava). This festival is a tribute to the famous Yogi who introduced Tantric Buddhism throughout the Himalayas.
Instituted by the 4th Desi, Gyalse Tenzin Rabgay in 1867, the Thimphu Tshechu is arguably one of the best and the second largest festival in all of Bhutan. This unique and colourful display of Bhutanese culture is also a major tourist attraction, luring visitors from all four corners of the globe to witness this extraordinary event.
Prior to the actual three day celebrations, the Tshechu will be preceded by days and nights of prayers and rituals to invoke the gods. With tshechus taking place as early as the 8th century B.C., many ancient elements have been transmitted through the generations.
Held in the Tendrel Thang (courtyard) of the Tashichho dzong (monastery), the Thimphu Tshechu entices Bhutanese from all walks of life to celebrate and mingle with tourists.
Especially for the Bhutanese hailing from isolated communities from far flung dzongkhags, and particulary for farmers, the tshechu is regarded as a break from rural life. Donned in their finest attire, the villagers will come prepared with their bamboo picnic baskets filled with food to last the day.
Besides partaking in the exciting festivities, many Bhutanese also come to pray for health and happiness.
The highlight of the Thimphu Tshechu is the cham or religious mask dance performed by monks clad in flamboyant costumes. The Bhutanese believe that by attending a cham, they will wash away their sins and receive blessings.
Each cham is unique and has an interesting story behind it stretching back as early as the 8th century. With the aim of imparting moral values, scenes from the life of Guru Rimpoche, the founder of cham dancing were also re-enacted.
Some of the most appealing and exotic dances include the ‘Dance of the terrifying Gods’, the ‘Dance of the twenty-one black hats’ and the ‘Dance of the lords of cremation’. Moreover, other forms of captivating Bhutanese dances will also be performed, with much fanfare.
In addition, ‘Atsaras’ or clown-like jokers and dances will also be performed in the Thimphu Tschechu to ward off any evil spirits which might be lurking around.
The three days of lively festivities will culminate in the unfurling of the sacred Thongdrel of Guru Rimpoche, which is a gigantic sacred cloth with intricately woven portrayals of the Yogi himself and other Buddhist imageries.
It is believed that one’s sins will be cleansed by witnessing the unveiling of the Thongdrel with many turning up at the crack of dawn to receive blessings.
Understand the Significance of Attending a Tshechu