Thimphu Tshechu And What It means To The Bhutanese
The Thimphu Tshechu is the biggest festival in Bhutan, among other religious tshechus that happen in every district.
By Staff Reporter | Daily Bhutan
It is the tshechu (festival) season again, a time which many Bhutanese would look eagerly forward to.
In preparation for the three-day Thimphu Tshechu, many would be giving a second thought before they decide which gho or Kira (traditional Bhutanese costumes - gho for men and kira for women) to wear to the tshechu.
The Thimphu Tshechu is the biggest festival in Bhutan, among other religious tshechus that happen in every district, albeit on different dates.
It is held for three days during the 8th lunar month, and it brings thousands of people to the capital.
This year, the festival will be held from 8-10 October at the Tashichhodzong. The actual tshechu is preceded by days and nights of prayer and rituals to invoke the gods.
Photo: Druk Asia
As the population in Bhutan’s capital grew, the crowd at the Thimphu Tshechu has been increasing year on year, coupled by the rising number of tourists from overseas.
What tshechus mean for the people of Bhutan
The three-day religious event plays an important role in the lives of the Bhutanese as it is an opportunity for the Buddhist followers to cleanse themselves of bad Karma and usher in blessings.
For the elders in this tiny Himalayan Kingdom, there is a strong belief that they should witness tshechus as a preparation for their afterlife.
One belief is that when they leave this world and wander around in Samsara (the concept of rebirth and the cyclicality of all life, matter and existence), they should be able to identify the animals (courtiers of the lord of death), represented at the tshechus through mask dances (chams), to guide them to the right path.
Some examples of dances include the Guru Tshengye (eight manifestations of Guru Rinpoche), Shaw Shachi (Dance of the Stags), Dance of the terrifying deities and Dance of the lords of the cremation grounds. Performed mainly by monks, the dancers are all dressed up in colourful costumes and some can be seen wearing awe-inspiring masks.
Source: Druk Asia
These dances are performed as a tribute to Guru Rimpoche, the great Buddhist master who brought Buddhism to Bhutan.
Significance of the unfurling of the thongdrel
For those who cannot make it to the festival, they can watch it on television in the comfort of their homes. However, it is believed that blessings from the unfurling of the thongdrel (a large appliqué with religious images) are diluted if one watches the process on TV.
As for other Bhutanese, the festival is simply a social event, whereas for some it is an opportunity to display the kira or gho that they had been waiting all year to wear.
Whatever the reasons, tshechus still remain as an important festival for the majority because it is a sacred as well as a fun festival with a distinctly Bhutanese flavour.