Welcome at the Paro Festival
Attending a festival (Tshechu) is a special event; not only is it good for the karma, it is also an important social event where people from everywhere in the country come to celebrate together. During a Tshechu, masked dances are performed by the monks of the monastery. Families settle with rugs and picnic baskets around the dance floor, spectators thron to catch a glimpse of the dancers. In exuberant colored robe and spectacular masks, they dance around on the square in complex patterns. They are accompanied by the rousing sounds of drums, cymbals and horns and sometimes by the sonorous chanting of monks along the side. In their long skirts they rush by abd with their butterfly sleeves they swish through the air. Some dancers are completely in a trance. Which dances you will see exactly, is never completely known. However there are dance schemes, every festival is in different order.
Maybe you will see the Shacham Dance, a dance depicting the victory of Guru Rinpoche on the evil Wind King, where the dancers wear yellow skirts at knee height and large masks of deer. Or the Black Hats Dance; these dancers are yogis whom have the power to live and give. They wear big black hats, felt boots, colorful brocade dresses with long batwing sleeves. The festival honored the Indian master Guru Rinpoche (also know as Padmasambhava). Guru Rinpoche is the most important saint in Bhutan. Around the year 800 he scattered the Tantric Buddism (also called Vajrayana, or Mantrayana) from India over the Himalaya and Bhutan. He is the founder of the Nyingma School, the oldest movement within Tibetan Buddism. All the staged monastery dances tell the story of his life. The tshechu's normally take place around the 10th day of the month of the Bhutanese calander, but the exact dates change somethimes, even close before the festival. The monks dances are interspersed with the necessary public entertainment; clowns that try to make the crowd laugh and performances by local singing and dancing groups. In addition, many other activities; often there is a kind of fair in the village, complete with little gambling stalls, market stalls, food stalls and of course archery, the national sport of Bhutan. Of course you can, together with the locals, participate in these activities.
One of the most famous tsechu's is that of Paro, but there are many more, for example in Thimpu, Panakha, Wangdue, Trongsa, Mongar, Trashigang abd various in the Bumtang valley. Please contact our Bhutan travel specialist for the exact dates and the possibilities to include a festival in your Bhutan tour.