Tsechu Spring Festival





Tsechu Spring Festival

***** Location: Bhutan
***** Season: Spring
***** Category: Humanity


celebrates the life of Guru Padmashambhava also known as Guru Rimpoche. It is based on his hagiography which recounts that on the 10th day of the lunar month important events of his life occured. But the Tsechu is not an every 10th day of the lunar month event.
It is a seasonal event and different valleys have either a spring, autumn or winter Tsechu.

Sonam Chhoki  

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Tsechu (literally "day ten")
are annual religious Bhutanese festivals held in each district or dzongkhag of Bhutan on the tenth day of a month of the lunar Tibetan calendar. The month depends on the place, but usually is around the time of October. Tsechus are religious festivals of Drukpa Buddhism.
The Thimphu tsechu and tha Paro tsechu are among the biggest of the tsechus in terms of participation and audience. Tsechus are large social gatherings, which perform the function of social bonding among people of remote and spread-out villages. Large markets also congregate at the fair locations, leading to brisk commerce.

The focal point of the tsechus are the sacred Cham Dances, which are banned in neighbouring Tibet.These costumed, masked dances typically are moral vignettes, or based on incidents from the life of the 9th century Nyingmapa teacher Padmasambhava and other saints.

Most tshechus also feature the unfurling of a thongdrel (or thangka) - a large tapestry typically depicting a seated Guru Rinpoche surrounded by holy beings, the mere viewing of which is said to cleanse the viewer of sin. The thongdrel is unrolled before dawn and rolled up by morning.

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Padmasambhava, the great Nyingmapa scholar, visited Tibet and Bhutan in the 8th century and 9th century. He used to convert opponents of Buddhism by performing rites, reciting mantras and finally performing a dance of subjugation to conquer local spirits and gods. He visited Bhutan to aid the dying king Sindhu Raja.
Padmasambhava performed a series of such dances in the Bumthang valley to restore the health of the king. The grateful king helped spread Buddhism in Bhutan. Padmasambhava organized the first tsechu in Bumthang, where the eight manifestations of Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava being the human form) were presented through eight forms of dances. These became the Chams depicting the glory of Padmasambhava.
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Paro Bhutan Festival Tour
Bhutan Spring Festival Tour

Paro Festival Tour is one of the crowded and popular festivals in Bhutan with its unique unfurling of the world’s biggest Thangka or Thongdrol ceremony. The pageantry is a unique experience and quite unlike anything you have ever seen before. The unfolding of the silk Thangka - which is so large that it covers the face of the building -is considered one of the most sacred blessings in the whole of Bhutan.

The 'Thangka' is a religious picture scroll known as a Thongdroel and it is exhibited for a few hours, at day break of the final day of the festival, enabling the people to obtain its blessing. This holy scroll 'confers liberation by the mere sight of it' (the meaning of the word 'thongdroel' in Bhutanese). This festival is held once a year so it is also the time for Bhutanese to come dressed-up in their finest colorful costumes to socialize and make merry.

This is not an event organized for tourist; it is an event that has been happening for centuries. You may get the attention of the Atchara(clown), Bhutan people won’t stare at you like elsewhere. Events inside Paro Rimpung Dzong commence with monks performing Shingje Yab yum, the dance of Death (Shingje) and his consort. This is followed by Durdag, the dance of the lords of the creation grounds, then Shanag, dance of the black hats, Drametse Ngadham, the dance of the druk from Dramtse, De Gye Mang Cham, the dance of the eight kinds of spirits and finally Chhoeshey,a religious song are also Zhungdra and Boedra dances performed by the Dzongkhag’s dancers.

source : www.bhutanvisitors.com

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Things found on the way

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Padma Sambhava, Nagarjuna, Milarepa . . .
. The Flying Mystics of Tibetan Buddhism


monks swirl and leap
in Tsechu masks of gods . . .
a toddler yawns

Sonam Chhoki
Spring 2010

Related words

. Festivals of Bhutan .  



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