Religious festivals are very numerous and have different names according to their types. The best known are the ‘tsechus’, which are festivals in honor of Guru Rinpoche, commemorating one of his great deeds. These great deeds are all believed to have taken place on the 10th day of the month; which is the meaning of the word ‘tsechu’. Even though all tsechus do not in practice, take place on the 10th day. All the district Dzongs and a large number of villages, especially in the east, have an annual tsechu which attracts peasants from the surrounding countryside.
Bhutanese celebrates Tsechus for several days, between three and five according to the location. And are the occasion for dances that religious content clearly defines. They can be performed by monks, laymen, or gomchens and the repertory is the same practically everywhere. Certain tsechus end with the worship of a huge appliqué thanka representing Guru Rinpoche and his eight manifestations. Such a thanka is called ‘thongdrel’ which means people can be delivered from the cycle of reincarnations simply by viewing it. Some tsechus also have a wang, a collective verbal blessing given by a high monk. Then distributes colorful threads and people tie them around their necks as a witness to the blessing. The wang is often called ‘mewang’, meaning ‘blessing by fire’; as the participants jump over a fire that burns away their impurities.
Atsaras are clowns whose expressive masks and postures are an indispensable element in any religious festival: they confront the monks, toss out salacious jokes, and distract the crowd with their antics when the religious dances begin to grow tedious. Believed to represent the Acharyas, religious masters of India, they are the only people permitted to mock religion in a society where sacred matters are treated with the highest respect. For a few days, they allow these popular entertainers the freedom to express a formulaic challenge within an established framework that does not, however, upset the social and religious order.
Some religious festivals include only a few dances and consist mostly of readings from a particular text. On these occasions, villagers assemble in the temple and participate in the prayers while at the same time drinking strong alcoholic beverages. Each village takes pride in its annual religious festival, whether it includes dances or simply prayers. And any villager who has gone to live in the city, they expected them to come back home for it. He will then sponsor a large part of the festival.
For the Bhutanese, religious festivals offer an opportunity to become immersed in the meaning of their religion and to gain merit. They are also occasions for seeing people, and for being seen; for social exchanges, and for flaunting success. People bring out their finest clothes, their most beautiful jewels; they take out picnics rich with meat and abundant alcohol. Men and women joke and flirt. An atmosphere of convivial, slightly ribald good humor prevails.
If this itinerary doesn’t suit your requirement or if you want to customize it, please feel free to contact us. This trek could be customized as per your required time-frame and budget limits.
Day 1 : ARRIVE PARO - THIMPHU (L/D)::
Please check-in at the airport before 2 hours of departure time. Keep passport and Visa Clearance letter (which will be emailed to you in advance) handy to be shown to the authorities on demand. Passport copy and visa clearance are must to board Druk Air flight to Paro. Keep your copy of the visa clearance letter handy. The actual visa will be stamped on your passport upon arrival at Paro airport. Upon arrival in Paro, clear customs and immigration. Meet your guide and driver outside the terminal building and transfer to Thimphu. If time permits stroll around the capital city after check-in to the hotel in Thimphu. Overnight hotel, Thimphu. Drive from Paro to Thimphu: The distance of about 65kms from Paro town takes about little more than 1 hour. Drive south following Pachu river to the river confluence at Chuzom, which is also the hub of the road network going to Paro, Ha, Thimphu and Phuntsholing. From Chuzom, the drive takes about 1 hour, staying close to the Wangchu River on the valley floor, as you pass through villages and suburbs to the capital, Thimphu. En-route, you can stop to view the Tachogang temple and the nunnery at Sitsina. Thimphu (2,300m): was a wooded farming valley until 1961, when it became Bhutan’s official national capital. The massive Tashicho Dzong, about 700 years old, was carefully revamped in the 1960s by the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk to house the royal and main government offices. Even today, it still only has a few streets and no traffic lights with an estimated population of 120,000 people.
Day 2 : THIMPHU (B/L/D):Full day sightseeing in Thimphu.:
Visit Memorial Chorten, Zilukha Nunnery, Takin Sanctuary, Traditional School of arts & crafts, Buddha Point, handmade paper factory, and weekend market. Towards the end of the day visit Tashicho Dzong. Overnight at hotel, Thimphu. Memorial Chorten: This landmark of Thimphu was built in 1974 in memory of the third King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, who is popularly regarded as the Father of Modern Bhutan. It is a four-story tall white building, containing statues and iconography of deities from complex tantric teachings and serves as an important place of worship for Thimphu residents, as well as from other parts of the country. Zilukha Nunnery: It has been housed in Drubthob Goemba (monastery). There are about 70 nuns who live and pray every day in the monastery. The beautiful view of Tashicho Dzong can be seen from the nunnery. Takin Sanctuary: Takin (Budorcas taxicolor) has been chosen as the national animal of Bhutan is based both on its uniqueness and its association with the country’s history and mythology. It is said that Devine Madman, a popular saint is said to have created it with his magical power at a large congregation of devotees. It resembles a cow from the back and goat in the front and continues to befuddle taxonomists, who cannot quite relate to another animal. The traditional school of arts & Crafts: (open 9-5 pm mon-Fri and 9-1 pm on Sat –with exceptions of holidays and breaks). Commonly known as ‘the painting school’ is a national institute where children attend a six-year course that provides instruction in Bhutan’s traditional arts and crafts called Zorig Chuksum – meaning 13 crafts. Buddha Point: This is a new monument and main highlight of Thimphu valley. It has a 165 meters high Buddha statue. Paper Factory: Traditional papers were made from the daphne plant, using simple methods. Weekend Market: The colorful weekend market of Thimphu is held from Friday-Sunday. Residents of Thimphu and the countrysides come to shop for food and clothes. There are some handicrafts and gifts shop as well and provide a great photography scene. Tashichhodzong: This fortress serves as the office of the King, ministers, and various government organizations. It also is the headquarters for a central monastic body of Bhutan. Bhutan’s spiritual leader Je-Khenpo and the monks of both Thimphu and Punakha reside here during summer. It is also the venue for Thimphu Festival in the fall season.
• Private transportation.
• All necessary travel permits
• English speaking local guide.
• Accommodation on a single/twin room basis.
• Sightseeing and monastery entrance fees as per the itinerary
• Meal plan: Full Board Basis
• Insurance of any kind.
• Additional cost due to natural calamity and unforeseen circumstance
• Personal expenses such as drink, guide tips &, etc.