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Festival Holidays in Bhutan

  • Festival Holidays in Bhutan

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Sandwiched between India and Tibet the tiny Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan is home to numerous spectacular annual festivals. Each Dzong (large fortress style buildings used for both security and to house monasteries) plays host to a ‘Tshechu’. The literal translation of ‘Tsechu’ is ‘tenth day’, as originally the festivals were arranged for the tenth day of the lunar calendar, which in turn was linked with the birthday of Guru Ringpoche. Nowadays the festival dates are a little more flexible. For the Bhutanese these festivals are hugely important and everyone must attend at least one in their lifetime, in reality most attend a festival each year because as well as being religiously important they are a great opportunity for locals to get together and exchange news.

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The most famous festival is the Paro Tsechu, usually held in March or early April.  As with all festivals in Bhutan the day is filled with traditional masked dances, depicting demons, heroes, animals and wearing brightly coloured brocade outfits. The highlight of the Paro Festival is the raising of a large Thangka, a Buddhist painting, which is displayed on the side of the monastery for one day each year.

The Haa Valley Summer Festival is a great opportunity for visitors to learn about the nomadic lifestyle of the herders. Alternatively the Black Necked Crane Festival held in the courtyard of Gangtey Gompa celebrates this endangered species that makes the Projikha Valley its home each winter.

Festivals are taken very seriously in Bhutan so wear your best clothes and remember to pack your camera!

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