Thimphu Tshechu or the Thimphu Festival is truly an amazing and popular event among locals and travelers which is held in the capital city of Thimphu. Thousands gather to the courtyard of the Tashichhodzong to witness the colorful and vibrant traditional sacred mask dances where the locals appareled in their finest traditional attire and jewelry gather with their families. The annual religious festival is celebrated in the beginning of the 10th day of the 8th month of the lunar Tibetan calendar for three consecutive days.
During 18th century Padmasambhava introduced Buddhism in Bhutan. In the past it is said that he traveled to Bumthang valley and performed the dance of the Eight Manifestations of Padmasambhava to bring back the life force of the dying King Sindhu Raja. Padmasambhava subdued the local deities with his supernatural Cham(dance) rituals, eventually marking the beginning of the festival in Bhutan which is staged annually by monks and laymen.
The dance is performed during the Thimphu Festival, in a colorful silk costumes and terrifying masks. The masks are crafted and painted and has significant roles and influences. The designed masks are decorated to scare off the immorality and the distractions caused to Buddhist from their deep meditation and prayer. More terrifying the mask the more power it has in protecting the worshiper.
The Devil Masks are the faces of the wrathful guardian deities who aim to save the faithful from destruction. Apart from masks dances the Thimphu Festival also has other entertaining programs staged by a red clown (Atsara), never fails to add the charm during the event and the beautiful soothing traditional dances are performed by dancers of the Royal Academy of Performing Arts.
Antique designed masks are believed to be powerful, the gods and deities are summoned during the dance. The spiritual practices include the chatting of mantras, playing monastery’s instruments, the hand gestures represent the meaning of the different tale. A deeply rooted religious practice that you will experience and never regret the powerful emotion that floods into you.
It’s the great time of the year where people receive blessings and cleanses the evil forces by witnessing of the Cham(dances). Thimphu Street is crowded with people and the open-air market along the Norzin Lham, basically dedicated to celebrating the three day festival which includes leisurely strolling, entertainments, shopping and food. The common beliefs and practices bring people together and they receive blessings, celebration, socialize and embrace the unique culture that has been pass down for ages.