Swirling masked dancers leap into the air in an explosion of colour, as the haunting sounds of trumpets, cymbals and flutes fill the air. An infectious, joyous energy is palpable. Attending a Tshechu, one of Bhutan’s religious festivals, is a culturally immersive experience like no other.
The small mountain kingdom of Bhutan is known for these masked dances which are held annually at various monasteries, temples and dzongs across the country. Special dances with evocative titles such as ‘Dance of the Stag and the Hunter’ and ‘Dance of the Terrifying Deities’ are performed by Buddhist monks and laymen wearing colourful masks and elaborate costumes. Entire communities come together to witness the dances and believe that by watching them they can purify their souls and bring themselves good luck.
Bhutan has over 200 festivals each year, with most of the celebrations occurring during spring and autumn. These range from huge celebrations in the major monasteries of Paro and Thimpu, to small village events where you’ll likely be the only tourist there. Ask us for recommendations when planning your trip.