Thimphu Tsechu Festival

At the end of September we were blessed with a festive local holiday comprising three days of choreographed and costumed dances. These were held at the purpose built festival grounds of the Tashichhodzong. We got dressed up in our local outfits and ventured out to see what the fun was all about.

The weather was beautiful, and because it is impossible for Antonia to ride a bike in a Kira, (I’m getting better at riding in a Gho) we decided to walk down to the festival grounds in the bottom of Thimphu Valley. We arrived later than planned, and the crowds were already filling the stadium for the largest festival in the country. There were amazingly long queues for security – separate for men and women – which provided a great fest of woven colour. We finally got inside and snuck across to find some good seats on the steps in the shade of the Dzong itself as the first of the processions began.

Without any commentary, we watched in wonder as individual dancers squared off in the enormous pavilion and started to twist and twirl to rhythmic beating of drums and droning of horns. This goes on for three days which are open to the public, and apparently starts three days earlier with more exclusive ceremonies. The festival, Which takes place of the 10th day of the month according to the Bhutanese calendar, celebrates the life of Padmasambhava, commonly known as “Guru Rimpoche”. His life is celebrated in 12 stages, each represented by a special dance. We made it through only two dances before realising that we were inadequately prepared and did not have enough food or water to last us all day!

(Click on any picture to expand or view as slide show.)

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