Tshechu best described, as the living culture of Bhutan Festivals are important events celebrated throughout Bhutan. The term ‘Tshechu’ literally translates into 10th day of the Bhutanese lunar calendar which is considered auspicious. During Tshechus, chaams (religious dances) are performed either by monks or by lay people. Beside the religious dancers and singers, there are Atsaras who usually wear masks with big red noses. To most, Atsaras are the soul of Tshechus or festival. They joke yet they are the ones who maintain order. People also believe that they are the religious teachers. Tshechus are also social gatherings where the people are dressed in their finest clothes and jewelries, eat, socialize, and make merry.
More importantly, people go to Tshechus, to gain merits as it’s a religious festival. Most dzongs, monasteries and temples have an annual Tshechu with a series of traditional and colorful dances performed by trained dancers and monks.. There are also secular festival like the birth anniversaries of kings, national day celebration, etc., where people gather in their colorful national dresses and witness programs dedicated to the particular day’s celebration.
One of the biggest festivals in the country is the Thimphu Tshechu. Several days prior to this grand festival, the Thimphu Drubchen takes place where thousands of people travel to the capital city and offer prayers and rituals to invoke the gods. Held at the Tashichho Dzong, both these festivals are among the extremely popular festivals in Bhutan.
Punakha Tshechu was introduced in 2005 by the 70th Je Khenpo Trulku Jigme Choedra and the then Home Minister His Excellency Lyonpo Jigme Yoedzer Thinley. This Tshechu was established to better preserve Buddhist teachings and keep alive the noble deeds of Zhabdrung Rimpoche, the unifier of Bhutan.