Festivals in Bhutan take place at different times of year, in different places. “Tshechu” known to the localities of Bhutan for festival, comes in a form of religious activities, and the time when people gather, with their best attires. Festivals are celebrated on 10th Day of particular month, so the name “Tshechu” was derived, (”Tshe” means Date and “Chu” means 10).
Tshechu festivals are celebrated for several days ranging from minimum of three days to five days, according to their location. One would be able to view and witness Bhutanese Folk Dances, religious dance, Mask Dances known as “Chaam”, and other religious dramas and epics of great known saint of Buddhism. These dances are performed by Monks, laymen and few dances by students of RAPA (Royal Academy of Performing Arts).
Atsara are clowns, with their expressive masks and postures, are an indispensable element in any religious festival. They confront the monks, toss out salacious jokes, and distract the crowd with their antiques when the religious dances begin to grow tedious. Believed to represent Acharyas (religious masters of India) they are the only people permitted to mock religion in a society where sacred matters are treated with the highest respect. For a few days these popular entertainers are allowed the freedom to express a formulaic challenge within an established framework that does not, however upset the social and religious order.
Some tshechus end with the displaying of a huge applique thangkha (scroll) called “Thongdroel”. The Thongdroel is unveiled at first light to bring enlightenment to all who view it. The faithful believe that by simply viewing this Thongdroel, they can be delivered from the cycle of reincarnation.
For the Bhutanese, religious festivals offer an opportunity to become immersed in the meaning of their religion and gain much merit. They are also occasions for seeing people, and for being seen, for social exchanges, and for flaunting success. People bring out their finest clothes, their most beautiful jewelries, and go for picnic with abundant alcohol and meat. Men and women joke and flirt. An atmosphere of convivial, slightly ribald good humor prevails.