Bhutan, a kingdom on the Himalayas’ eastern edge, is known for its monasteries, fortresses (or dzongs) and dramatic landscapes that range from subtropical plains to steep mountains and valleys.
A sovereign state in South Asia, Bhutan is also popularly known as ‘Land of Thunder Dragon.’ It is a landlocked country situated in the Eastern Himalayas, bordered along the People’s Republic of China to the north, having India to the south, east, and west. The land consists mostly of high and steep mountains crisscrossed by a network of swift rivers, which form deep valleys. The country has the world’s highest unclimbed peak, Gangkhar Puensum, at 24,836 feet.
An interesting fact about Bhutan – the general prosperity of the country is measured by the ‘Gross National Happiness’ index, explained by its four pillars – sustainable development, good governance, cultural preservation and environmental protection. Also, continually ranked as the happiest country in Asia and the eighth-happiest country in the world according to a survey by Business Week.
Bhutanese have a strong reverence towards nature and the country leads in environmental conservation. People use cotton bags instead of plastic bags to keep the environment free of non- biodegradable items.Also, the Tobacco Control Act regulates tobacco, banning the cultivation, harvesting, production, and its sale in Bhutan.
Bhutanese cuisine is known for its spiciness, most Bhutanese people do not enjoy a meal if it is not spicy. Rice and chillis are the main ingredients of most meals, accompanied by side dishes consisting of vegetables or pork, beef, and chicken. Ema Datshi is the national dish of Bhutan. Rich in cultural diversity, every village in Bhutan has a unique festival, Tshechu is the most important and widely celebrated of all festivals.
Dwelling on its tourism industry, Bhutan attracts many travelers from across the globe because of its untouched mountains, serenity, and vibrancy. The Punakha Dzong- arguably the most beautiful Dzong in the country, Trashi Chhoe Dzong, the Paro Dzong and the Taktshang Goemba also known as the Tiger’s Nest Monastery are the main attractions of the country.
Good To Know
Tshechu is a religious festival meaning “tenth day” held annually in various temples, monasteries and dzongs throughout the country.
The Tshechu is a religious event celebrated on tenth day of a month of the lunar calendar corresponding to the birthday of Guru Rimpoche (Guru Padmasambhava). However the exact month of the Tshechu varies from place to place and temple to temple.
Tshechus are grand events where entire communities come together to witness religious mask dances, receive blessings and socialize. In addition to the mask dances, tshechus also include colorful Bhutanese dances and other forms of entertainment.
It is believed that everyone must attend a Tshechu and witness the mask dances at least once to in order to receive blessings and wash away their sins. Every mask dance performed during a Tshechu has a special meaning or a story behind it and many are based on stories and incidents from as long ago as the 8th century, during the life of Guru Padmasambhava. In monasteries, the mask dances are performed by monks and in remote villages, they are performed jointly by monks and village men.
Two of the most popular Tshechus in the country are the Paro and Thimphu Tshechus in terms of participation and audience. Besides the locals, many tourists from across the world are attracted to these unique, colorful and exciting displays of traditional culture.