Bhutan is a country of festivals. The most important are the religious dance festivals, known as Tshechus, which are held in different districts, at specific times during the year. The Tshechus are celebrated for three to five days. These festivals, which are held in honor of Guru Rimpoche, commemorate his great deeds. Dances with deep religious significance, especially in the tantric context, are performed.

The Tshechus are important religious festivals and it is believed that by attending them one gains merits and blessings. They are not sombre formal religious affairs, but occasions to get together, renew acquaintances, and make merry. The atsaras (traditional clowns of the Tshechu) add color and merriment to the festival by their bawdy antics. Tshechus attract crowds that sometimes come from the remotest of villages. In a swirl of color and noise, the gods and demons of Buddhist mythology come to life.

Some important Dzongs have a festival called Dromchoe, held in honor of Yeshe Gompo (Mahakala) or Palden Lhama (Mahakali), the two main protective deities of the Drukpas. Rare masked and sword dances and other rituals are performed in the courtyards and temples of the Dzongs during festivals. The origin of most of the dances can be traced beyond the Middle Ages and are only performed once or twice a year. Each dance has its own significance and is performed by monks and villagers who come to Bhutan to witness these annual festivals.

The most popular festivals for tourists are those held in Paro during spring, and those at Thimphu and Bumthang in autumn. The Tshechu at Bumthang is well known for taking place almost entirely during the night and containing exciting fire dances, which are intended to help the childless women at the festival conceive during the forthcoming year. The colorful ceremonies, religious theatre and exorcism ritual, are the most striking testimonies to the deep-rooted faith of Bhutan’s society.

To view the full list of festival dates click the link ‘2016 Festivals dates and 2017 tentative Festival dates’ under download forms and info.