Festivals in Bhutan are known for their richness, vibrancy and happiness. The ancient expressions of Buddhist culture and legendary victories are re-enacted and celebrated around the country with such pomp and show that it attracts visitors and tourists from around the globe. Most of these festivals are dedicated to Guru Rimpoche – the saint who introduced Bhutan to Buddhism in the early 8th Century. The mystical dances, engaging performances, brave fire events, mysterious naked dances, enlightening re-creations and such comprise the festive celebrations. Sometimes there are rare displays of silk paintings and/or some ancient scrolls. The festivals in Bhutan never let you off the high. For a quick peek, join us on a virtual tour to the major festivals in Bhutan 2021.
Popular Festivals In Bhutan
1. Thimphu Tshechu Festival
Thimphu Tshechu is the biggest and the most popular festival of Bhutan. This is also called the national festival of Bhutan where thousands of people flock down, all decked up in fine colorful attires to be a part of the festivities. There are colors, there are dance performances, there are activities, and there are plays in this Bhutan festival in 2021. However, the colorful mask dances, where people and monks dance their heart out to celebrate life and cheeriness of Bhutan, steal the show.
2. Jambay Lhakhang Drup Festival
Naked dancing, fire dancing, mask dancing – Jambay Lhakhang Drup has it all. One of the main festival of Bhutan, there are traditional dances are performed to celebrate the foundation of Jambay Lhakhang Monastery and to honor Guru Rimpoche. Mewang – the fire ceremony, attracts thousands of tourists and features locals dancing under a flaming structure made of dry grass. Meanwhile, the event highlight is ‘Dance of Treasure’ – Tercham, where masked dancers and monks perform naked. This part of the festivities take place in the middle of the night.
3. Punakha Drubchen and Tshechu Festival
Out of all the festivals in Bhutan, Punakha Drubchen is most unique. It is about recreation of some consequential scenes and moments from the Tibetan Army battle of 17th Century. The local military officials recreate and re-enact the scenes dressed in full battle gear complete with swords. It is to celebrate the victory and to pay tribute to the villagers who came forward to drive out the Tibetan army out of their country. It shows gratitude to these people because of whom, Tibet was unable to take over Bhutan.
4. Wangdue Phodrang Tshechu Festival
The region of Wangdue Phodrang, central Bhutan, is famous for its ornamental speeches and songs known as Lozeys. The annual festival was introduced after the completion of Dzong, which is a fortress, in 1639. It is one such Bhutan festival, where locals and thousands of tourists come together to revel in the festivities and to celebrate life and merriment. The ‘Dance of Ox’ is also a major attraction, where people dance to ensure a peaceful afterlife. The festival is concluded with the unfurling of a gigantic scroll of various paintings, known as Guru Tshengye Thongdrol.
5. Paro Tshechu Festival
The Paro Tshechu is held in Paro Dzongkhag district and considered as one of the biggest religious festivals. This celebration continues for five days, usually during springtime on the 2nd Bhutanese Lunar month. The festival depicts the beautiful culture, tradition, and age-old customs followed in Bhutan. Monks and laymen dress up in vibrant costumes and dance together. On the last day, a gigantic thangka or embroidery painting is shown to all. It is believed that by witnessing this Throngdrel, it can cleanse the sins of the viewers.
6. Jomolhari Mountain Festival
The Jomolhari is celebrated for two days. Its magnificent theme and humble locals represent the cheer of the festival which is celebrated at the foothills of Mt. Jomolhari. The main attraction is the ‘Snow Leopard Show’ which aims at making people aware of the declining number of snow leopards in the region. The locals dress in their traditional attire and dance to folk songs.
7. Nimalung Festival
This three-day celebration is overflowing with traditional folk dances and vibrant attire. Don’t miss the main attraction, the Mask Dance, when locals beseech the gods for their blessings and pray to help them get rid of their misfortunes. The festival culminates with a rare display of a giant silk applique thangkha (painting) depicting Guru Padmasambava and other important deities.