Posted on September 19, 2010
Tourists from around the world flock to Bhutan to witness a tshechu. We were very lucky to be able to attend Thimphu Tshechu on the weekend of September 17-19. The Tshechu is dedicated to Padmasambhava also known as Guru Rinpoche (Precious Master) who brought Buddhism to Bhutan.
The Je Khenpo, the monk who is the spiritual head of Buddhism in Bhutan presided over the ceremony. Many Bhutanese get new clothes to attend the festival. They come with their families bringing food and drink to spend the whole day watching the religious dances.
Atsu was invited by his friends to attend this festive event and was also provided with a fancy gho and kabney, traditional scarf only worn on special occasions. Atsu was lucky enough to have a friend whose uncle is a monk, so he was able to view the dances from a box seat reserved for monks. On the other hand, the rest of us Lina, Emilia, Elana, Bianca and Sue had a tough time watching the dances through the crowd.
The masked dancers are usually monks or lay gomchen. They are highly qualified dancers who also perform for the royal family. The dances tell religious stories. Though the same dances are performed at tshechus around the country, the one held in Thimphu Dzong is the biggest one. People from around the world attend it. It is even broadcast live on the TV. There are also atsaras (clowns) who provide comic relief when the dances become boring. They make fun of the monks and the dances, which can become tedious after many hours.
At the end of the tshechu, a throngdrel (a very large thanka or hanging) is dropped from the walls of the dzong. The thongdrel represents Guru Rinpoche and his eight manifestations. It is believed that simply by viewing the thongdrel the people will be blessed and be delivered from the cycle of reincarnation. To receive this auspicious blessing, people rush into the thongdrel while a police force tries to control them. Elana was there on the last day of the tshechu and so she received the blessing.
From the Bhutan Team
Atsu, Devon, Emilia, Elana, Lina, Raffi, Sarah, Yuri, Bianca and Sue