Bhutan is known for its rich Buddhist culture and religious monuments. The Kingdom of Bhutan is considered to be a sacred country that has its religious belief towards Lord Buddha. The majority of festivals celebrated in Bhutan are related to Buddhism and its sects. Numerous festivals are celebrated all year around in different districts of Bhutan. During the festivals the Dzongs, temples, monasteries and villages come to life with different colors, music, traditional dances and different celebrations. People celebrate festivals with much joy and happiness. Different rituals are held during the festivals. Mostly the festivals are organized in the courtyards of Dzongs, monasteries and temples where devotees perform rare mask dance, sword dance along with other rituals.
The most recognized and celebrated festival of Bhutan is Tsechu festival. ‘Tse’ means date and ‘Chu’ means ten hence Tsechu festival is celebrated on every 10th day of the lunar calendar. The Tsechu festival is celebrated to mark the great deeds of Tantric maestro Guru Pasmasambhava. He is also known as Guru Rimpoche who made his way in the country and spread Buddhism in the 8th century. Devotees throng to Dzongs and monasteries to receive blessings and empowerment from the Lama and Buddhist monks. The festival lasts for four days. The attraction of this festival is the traditional masked dance performed by different performers. Punakha Dromche is another great festival of Bhutan. This festival is celebrated in the first month of lunar year to pay reverence to Yeshe Gompa (Mahakala) and Palden Lhamo who are considered to be the protective deities of Bhutanese people. This festival is marked with dancers wearing special costumes made of yellow silk or rich brocade often decorated with ornaments of carved bones. The masks they wear resembles animals, fearsome deities, skulls or human beings. The Punakha Dromche festival is mostly celebrated in Thimphu, Paro and Punakha. Black-Necked Crane festival celebrated in the courtyard of Gangtey Gompa in Phobjikha valley is another important festival of Bhutan. This festival is celebrated annually to spread awareness in conserving the endangered bird which is linked to economic welfare and sustainable livelihood of the country. This festival is a showcase for different cultural programs where folk songs and dances are performed. The mask dance, crane dance, dramas, and cultural programs by the school children is another interesting part of the festival.
There are many other festivals that are celebrated in Bhutan. Some of the festivals of Bhutan are listed below:
Festivals in spring:
Paro Tshechu (End of March)
Bhumthang Ura Yakchoe (third week of April)
Festivals in summer:
Haa Summer Festival (end of June or first week of July)
Festivals in autumn:
Thimphu Drubchen (third week of September)
Wangdue Tshechu (third week of September)
Bhumthang Thangbi Mani (End of September to first week of October)
Bhumthang Jambhay Lhakhang Drup (end of October to first week of November)
Bhumthang Prakhar Tshechu (end of October to first week of November)
Festivals in winter:
Trongsa Tshechu (third week of December)
Punakha Domchoe (mid-February )
Punakha Tshechu (third week of December)
Click here to see some festival tours in Bhutan.