Paro Tshechu is one of Bhutan’s oldest and most important monastic festivals. This Paro festival was first celebrated 1644 when Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal consecrated the Paro Dzong. This 5 day long religious festival held at the Paro or Rinpung Dzong is dedicated to Guru Rinpoche, the Buddhist spiritual master who introduced Buddhism in Bhutan. Paro Tshechu is a major attraction for both locals as well as tourists. It is believed that attending a Tshechu and watching the monks sing and dance will bring you blessings and spiritual merit. People come from far and near totake part in the festivity.
As per the Bhutanese lunar calendar the Paro Tshechu begins on the tenth day of the second Bhutanese month and ends on the fifteenth day. During the festival Cham (masked) dances and tantric rituals are performed by monks. The performances depict the saintly deeds of Guru Rimpoche. Monks don elaborate and colorful silk costumes and masks and perform masked dances.
One of the most special dances performed during the festival is the Shingje Yab Yum, the dance of the Lord of Death and his consort. Other dances include Shana or the Black Hat Dance, Dramitse Ngacham or the Dance of the Drums from Dramitse, Sha Tsam or the Dance of the Four Stags, Tungnam or the Dance of the Terrifying Deities etc.
On the last day of the festival, a gigantic thangkha or thongdrel (embroidered scroll painting) of Guru Padmasambhava is displayed to the public. The ceremony is held early in the morning, before the sunrises. The giant thangka depicts the eight manifestations of Guru Rinpoche or Padmasambhava. Buddhists believe that witnessing the unfurling of this thangka at the Rinpung Dzong will cleanse you of your sins. The King of Bhutan also makes it a point to attend this religious ritual.
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