Land of the Thunder Dragon
Tsechus are religious festivals typically 3-4 days long held in every Bhutanese town or district in honour of Guru Rinpoche, also known as Padmasambhava, who brought Tantric Buddhism to the Himalayan regions of Bhutan, Tibet, Nepal and Ladakh around 800 A.D.. Tsechus first arose in the 16th century and comprise of dances depicting stories of Guru Rinpoche's life and exploits, as well as moral tales and folklore. Bhutanese believe that by watching a tsechu, they gain religious merits. When tsechu is held in a district, public holidays will be proclaim and everyone dress in their best national costumes to go to the dzong to watch the tsechus. Sept/Oct is the period with the largest tsechus, hence the most popular time of the year for tourists to visit Bhutan.
Mask dance: Stag & the Hounds (Shawa Shachi)
-story of how the saint Milarepa converted a hunter to Buddhism
Dance of the Noblemen and the Ladies (Pholey Moley)
- This dance depicts how two princess whose husbands went off to war flirted with a jester and then got their noses cut off by their returning husbands as punishment! An old woman who was supposed to look after the princesses also had her nose cut. A doctor is then called to put the noses back but the old woman stinks so much that the doctor has to use a stick. Finally, the princes married the princesses and everybody was reconciled. Moral of the story? Maybe one should not flirt when partners are not around!
Dance of the Judgement of the Dead (Raksha Mangcham)
spectacular mask dance at the Tsechu. From this
site: This is based on the Bardo Thoedrol (Book of the Dead), a text hidden
by Guru Rinpoche and rediscovered later by Karma Lingpa (14th
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|Lonely Planet South East Asia||Lonely Planet Bhutan|
Tan Wee Cheng 2006