Thimphu Tshechu, one of the most important festivals celebrated in Thimphu, commemorates the birth anniversary of Guru Rinpoche or Padmasambhava. Held at the magnificent Tashichho Dzong, the festival is marked by colourful and chhams(masked dances) depicting the teachings and events from the life of Guru Rinpoche.
Thimpu Tshechu is one of the biggest and the most important festival celebrated in Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan. Tshechus are celebrated in Bhutan’s major cities in honour of Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) who brought tantric Buddhism to Bhutan in the 8th century. Thimpu Tsechu was first observed in 1670 AD, during the reign of Tenzing Rabgye, the fourth ruler of Bhutan, to celebrate the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhasava. This 3-day long festival is celebrated on the eighth month of the Bhutanese lunar calendar at the magnificent Tashichho Dzong.
Thimphu Tsechu is witnessed by thousands of people who travel to Thimpu from far and near. As it is a religious festival, Bhutanese believe that they are blessed by Bhutanese saints and gain merit by attending a Tshechu. During the festival masked dances representing the life of Guru Padmasambhava are performed.
When it first started, only a few Chham(masked dances) were performed by the monks. Dance of the 21 Black(Zhang Nga Chham, Dance of the Lord of the Cremation Ground (Durdag) and Terrifying Deities Dance (Tungam) were some of the few dances. The 3rd King of Bhutan, Jigme Dorje Wangchuk, during the 1950s introduced some more dances to the Thimpu Tsechu. The dances that were included are known as Boed Chams and these are performed by lay monks. The new chhams added more variety and colour to this vibrant festival.
The other major performances that one can enjoy are the Shaw Sachi (Dance of the Stags) and Guru Tshengye (8 Manifestations of the Guru). Viewing these performances is considered to be very spiritual and believed to cleanse one’s sins. Locals from other Dzongkhags(areas) converge to the capital city of Thimphu to take part in this religious festival.