The colourful religious festivals of Bhutan take place through out the country. Their date are fixed according to the Bhutanese lunar calender.
Celebration may involve complex rituals to protective deities, simple recitation and chantings.
Best known and most elaborate are the tsechus, held in the honour of Guru Rinpoche and commemorating the great deeds. Tsechu means tenth day
when his actions are believed to have taken place. Chaams, religious dances are performed to teach basic precepts of Buddhism, to subdue evil
spirits or to celebrate the greatness of Lord Buddha. Performed by monks or laymen depending on the occasion, the dancers wear extravagent
costumes and beautifully carved masks. They are accomplished athletes as some of the dances last over and hour and involve leaping and rotating.
A holy celebration is not complete without atsaras, clowns who wear expressive masks, make ribald jokes and mock the dancers in a way which
has the public roaring with laughter. An important Tsechu might include the display of a large appliqued thangka called Thongdrol.
A festival is also opportunity to meet family, friends and acquaintances to show off new clothes and jewellery and forget the daily
chores. People watch the dances, pray, shop eat and drink in a uniquely convivial where humour and devotion mix astonishingly well.
Participating in a festival is the very best way to appreciate the essence of Bhutanese character.