THE THIMPHU TSCHECHU
OK--so what in the world is a TSHECHU? When you say it, it sounds like you're sneezing.
A Tshechu is a religious festival held once a year in different temples, monasteries and dzongs throughout Bhutan.
It's the time when the monks dance! The dances are religious in nature and sometimes tell old stories, but without words. Many are based on stories from as long ago as the 8th Century, when Guru Rimpoche was alive.
Tshechus were initiated to thank gods for peace and prosperity and to invoke the power of the higher beings to grant us continued prosperity and happiness. It's also a very social time, when people from far away villages walk to the temple and spend the day(s) watching the dances, eating and gossiping with friends (Bhutanese gossip a lot).
According to the Bhutanese culture, it is believed that everybody must attend at least one Tshechu in their lifetime and witness the mask dances to clear all sins and receive blessings.
According to that, Rick and I have attended at least three Tshechus, so perhaps we are sinless (doubtful) but we are most certainly blessed (we're here after all!)
Better to just show you the pictures. You have to imagine eerie music from long horns and cymbals that accompany the dances. The Thimphu Tshechu is the largest in Bhutan. It lasts for three days and thousands come to see it. This year we all saw it in the rain.
The crowd is amazingly patient, even the little ones.
They all wear their best kiras and ghos (the national dress) and are as colorful as the dancers!
There is also a joker type guy who works the crowd, asking for small donations. He wields a large wooden phallus and if you donate, he'll bless you with it! Yes, of course we did that! Wouldn't you?
Between the dances, the women come out to dance, all dressed in their best clothes.
And even the dogs get in the act. What a place to take a nap.
And here's a lovely police person!
Here's a handsome Bhutanese family, all dressed up in their finest handwoven clothes.
Despite the rain, we all enjoyed it. Plus, not bad to have all your sins erased and be blessed at the same time. Good deal.
If I had a wooden phallus, I'd bless you with it right now!