Paro in Bhutan becomes spectacular during its own festival Paro Tshechu. With the majestic dzongs, lush valleys, a pristine river and a clear sky, this town does not look anything less than a painting. Giving visitors an illusion as if they are in a dream, Paro Tshechu makes your journey amidst the Himalayas unforgettable. Being a part of a tshechu here shows how religious faith can mould one's life towards the path of goodness. One gets to learn a lot about the culture of Bhutan and the history of Buddhism. No one goes empty-handed after attending this five-day-long festival.
Paro Tshechu 2023 Dates - When and Where does it take place?
Dates for Paro Tshechu 2023 - March 2nd - March 6thThe celebrations commence on the 10th day of the second month according to the Lunar Calendar, which means around March end. It takes place in the courtyard which is outside the dzong. In earlier days, the inner courtyard of the dzong used to host the grand event.
During the festival, one can also take a tour of the Paro Dzong. Because of all the decorations, this religious site looks even more marvellous and picturesque. The paintings in the dzong are a sensation to watch and appreciate.
How do the Celebrations Take Place?
For Bhutanese people, it is not just a festival. It is their faith and belief, which they celebrate in the form of Tshechu. Each day has its very own importance and the last day witnesses the most crowd. It is because the last day witnesses the unfurling of a "Thangka", made up of silk. Although the official tshechu starts from the tenth day of the 2nd Lunar month, the preparations and celebrations start from at least a month ago.
The locals shop for new clothes, and the dzong is decorated using flowers. People are anything but tired by constantly talking about the significance of this holy festival. It gives us an insight into their religion, in a form which can not be found in any other place. No wonder Paro Tshechu is one of the most popular tshechus in the whole of Bhutan. People from all over the country, and even outside the country, travel for miles to mark their presence in this sacred festival of dance and colours.
What Happens at the Tshechu?
- Dances, plays, songs and whatever you name - Paro Tshechu has it all.
- Monks and laymen wear silk costumes and perform sacred masked dances.
- Most dances have a story associated with them, which are depicted in the form of the performances.
- The theme of most of these spectacular dances is the victory of good over evil.
- They revolve around the visions and life words of Guru Rinpoche. His life story is depicted in the most beautiful way possible.
- Some of the most popular dances are Lords of the Cremation Grounds, Novel Men, Stag and Terrifying Deities.
- Many wind instruments, such as trumpets and flutes, are played, which fill the air with a sense of festivity and triumph.
- People seek blessings of Buddhist Gurus including Guru Rinpoche.
- Men and women are dressed in their finest clothes and have delicious Bhutanese cuisine packed with them in the bamboo lunchboxes.
- Everyone eats, and even the strangers come together as a family. No one feels left out here, and the locals tell the festival's history with unparalleled joy and enthusiasm.
The Last Day of Tshechu
The fifth and the last day witnesses a huge amount of crowd and excitement. No matter what, people do not miss the last day's celebrations, especially in the early morning. The day begins with the unwinding of a Thangka of Guru Rinpoche on the wall of the fortress. It is considered the most auspicious ceremony. People's life sins are believed to be washed away by having a look at this auspicious thongdroel.
The ceremony takes place early in the morning and is followed by masked dances. Very significant masked dances take place on the last day of the tshechu. The eight manifestations of Guru Rinpoche are re-enacted on this day only, and this is a performance not to be missed for the world. It is colourful and vibrant and the entire atmosphere around you would be engrossed in the festival.
History of Tshechus
The colourful tradition of tshechus began in Bumthang when Guru Padmasambhava helped to heal the king of the nation. Sindhu Raja, the then-king of Bhutan, was on the verge of death when Guru Padmasambhava, with his powers and belief, healed him. He performed a series of dance in Bumthang valley, which cured the ailment of the king.
After the king was healed, he helped Guru Padmasambhava in promoting Buddhism in Bhutan. That is when the first tshechu was held, where Dance of Eight Manifestations of Guru Rinpoche was performed.
How Paro Tshechu Began
In 1644, the consecration of the Paro Dzong by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and Ponpo Rigzin Nyingpo was followed by a grand celebration in the form of masked dances and traditional songs. It came to be recognised as Paro Tshechu, and since then it is being celebrated every year with the utmost zeal and happiness.
Like most tshechus in Bhutan, Paro Tshechu lasts for five days, and the whole town participates in it. It is celebrated in the memory of Buddhist Saint Guru Rinpoche, who introduced Buddhism in Bhutan. He is referred to as the "Second Buddha," and people worship him with pure faith.
If you are going to attend Paro Tshechu, then you do not need any special permit for that. Just like locals, visitors are also allowed to enter. There is no entry fee as well. So, there are absolutely no formalities for attending the festival. A celebration of the very culture of Buddhism, Paro Tshechu is a lively festival whose roots are embedded deep in the town's history. Planning your trip around this time would make your journey thousand times more cherishable. So, if you want to live Paro, then experience Paro Tshechu.