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FAIRS AND FESTIVALS IN BHUTAN

A land of happiness and prosperity, Bhutan is a country that is replete with pristine beauty and captivating heritage. Be it its monasteries, the Himalayan range, the deep valleys and meadows or popular fairs and festivals in Bhutan, the kingdom has everything to offer to its travellers. Each and every aspect of the nation is equally enthralling. The high-spirited religious festivals have become a crowd puller in the recent times. That is because the Bhutanese people have done everything in their power to keep their culture and traditions intact ever since it came into existence. Popularly known as Tshechus, one cannot miss out on witnessing the absolutely spectacular celebrations that take place in Bhutan.

So scroll below and read all about the famous festivals of Bhutan.

Punakha Drubchen

One of the oldest festivals of the district, the Punakaha Drubchen is all about a detailed dramatization of the Bhutanese militia duping and defeating an invading Tibetan army and forcing them to withdraw. A brief history on the edifice of Punakha Dzong is also showcased to the general public. This festival gives you a good glimpse of the ancient Bhutanese history besides its culture and traditions. It is held at the Punkaha Dzong and since it sits at the confluence of two rivers, the ambience only adds to the magnificent festivities.

Duration: 3-4 days

When does it happen: In the month of February or March

Where does it happen: Punakha Dzong, Punakha, Bhutan

Paro Tshechu

By far the most popular pageantry, the Paro Tshechu is one of the biggest festivals celebrated in Bhutan. As a part of the ritual, the world’s biggest Thangka or Thongdrel is unfurled. Mask dances are performed inside the courtyard of the Dzong that invokes the deities of the tantric teachings. It is believed that it removes misfortunes by quashing all evil spirits. This is your best chance to witness the spectacular display of age-old traditions, colour and tantric Buddhist rituals.

Duration: 5 days

When does it happen: In the month of March or April

Where does it happen: Ringpung Deyangkha, Paro valley, Bhutan

Thimphu Tshechu

One among the biggest of the tshechus in terms of audience and participation, the Thimphu Tshechu is celebrated as a tribute to Guru Rimpoche. It is a ceremony of colours with a happy amalgamation of the altering nature of the Bhutanese culture. It showcases ethnic folk dances in traditionally designed colourful masks. It concludes with the unfurling of Thongdrol of Guru Rinpoche.

Duration: 3 days

When does it happen: In the month of October

Where does it happen: Tashichho Dzong, Thimphu, Bhutan

Gomphu Kora Festival

Holding a religious significance, this festival is related to a famous folk tale that dates back to the 8th century AD. Guru Rimpoche suppressed an evil dragon here and the festival that is celebrated over a period of three days symbolises the triumph of good over evil. There are many relics inside the two-storey temple. The inscriptions and murals are also dated from their original construction period. The pilgrims revere it as a holy power place and walk all the way around the meditation cave.

Duration: 3 days

When does it happen: In the month of February or March

Where does it happen: Gomphu Kora, Trashi yangtse, Bhutan

Jambay Lhakhang Drup

There are so many offerings that go into making Bhutan an appealing tourist destination. And this festival is one of that. Among the 108 temples built on a single day by Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo, Jambay Lhakhang Drup commemorates the formation of Jambay Lhakhang temple in 7th century. The festival features unique dance forms held at midnight like Terchham or Naked Dance. Locals and tourists, however, are not permitted to witness but other mask dances and local food can be enjoyed at the festival.

Duration: 5 days

When does it happen: In the month of November

Where does it happen: Jambay Lhakhang, Choekhor, Bumthang valley, Bhutan

Sakteng Festival

The Sakteng Festival is where the natives come together in spiritual influence for worshipping. It also serves as an occasion for merry-making and social gathering. Every person remains adorned in time-honoured attires. The festival allows you to get close to nature in this unspoiled wilderness. The rare Yak dance is the highlight of the festival and is quite distinctive from the common mask dances seen in other parts of the kingdom.

Duration: 3 days

When does it happen: In the month of June

Where does it happen: Sakten Lhakhang, Bhutan

Haa Summer Festival

Imagine being a part of grand celebrations in a valley set among pristine lakes and high alpines. The Haa Summer Festival is an uplifting and lively celebration of traditional living-culture, unique Bhutanese cuisine, nomadic lifestyles, traditional sports and religious performances. A must-do thing is to experience staying the night at one of the many village homestays. It is your chance to enjoy the warm hospitality of the local people of Haa Valley. It provides unparalleled insight into the traditions and lives of Bhutan’s nomadic herders.

Duration: 2 days

When does it happen: The second weekend of July

Where does it happen: Dzongkhag Ground, Upper market, Haa valley, Bhutan

Merak Tshechu

Murak valley in Bhutan is a pristine destination that boasts unmatched scenic beauty. Brokpas are the local people who are exceptionally rooted in their traditions. They are quite secluded from all the happenings of the outside world. The Merak Tshechu is a break from the monotonous life of cattle herding for the locals. AcheLhamo is a famous dance performance that can be enjoyed during this festival. The attire is also unique as the people wear clothing woven out of sheep wool and Yak hair.

Duration: 3 days

When does it happen: In the month of November

Where does it happen: Tencholing Army ground, Wangdue phodrang

Wangdue Phodrang Tshechu

The Wangduephodrang Tshechu is a festival celebrated annually after the Dzong was completed. Huge gathering assembles to see the dance of the ox known as Raksha Mangcham. It is celebrated with much pomp and you can learn about the unique tradition and culture of Bhutan. The festivities conclude with the display of the Guru Tshengye Thongdrol wherein every onlooker fetches blessings and washes away their sins.

Duration: 3 days

When does it happen In the month of October

Where does it happen: Merak Lhakhang, Trashigang Dzongkhag district, Bhutan

Matsutake Festival

This festival is held to celebrate the harvesting of the wild mushrooms. It is a major source of income of the Bhutanese people. Matsutake and chanterelle are the most popular of all mushrooms and are known for their succulent and aromatic flavour. The highlight of the festival is that of engaging in mushroom picking activities and gulping down the matsutake mushroom soup. The festival includes cultural performances as well.

Duration: 3 days

When does it happen: In the month of August

Where does it happen: Genekha, between Thimphu- Paro highway, Bhutan

The people of Bhutan celebrate their festivals with much enthusiasm and great vigour. They treat them as a way of coming together. So when you visit this secluded land hidden in the Himalayas, make sure you attend the festivities and see the land glow up in all its glory.

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