Latest news from the Himalaya and Karakoram

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Punakha Drubchen and Tsechu festivals in Bhutan during February 2016

Photo: Punakha dzong in Bhutan

Punakha’s Drubchen and Tsechu festivals are the fourth most popular festivals in Bhutan behind Paro Tsechu, Thimphu Tsechu and Jambay Lhakang in Bumthang. The 2016 dates for Punakha Drubchen is February 13th to 16th and for Punakha Tsechu is February 17th to 19th.

Photo: Cham dance at Tsechue
Punakha Drubchen festival is dedicated to the legendary figures of Yeshe Gonpo and Palden Lhamo known as the two main protective deities of Drukpas or Bhutanese people. This is a unique festival as it features a recreation of the scene from the 17th century battle with Tibetan army. The ‘pazaps’ or local militia men, dress in traditional battle gear and re-enact the ancient battle scene. On the second day of the festival on February 14th a thongdrol is unfurled. A thongdrol is a large thanka and this one is made of applique on silk brocade taking fifty-one artists two years to finish.

In 2005 another festival known as Punakha Tshechu was introduced by the 70th Je Khenpo Trulku Jigme Choedra and the then Home Minister His Excellency Lyonpo Jigme Yoedzer Thinley. The colourful religious dances of the Punakha tsechu festival commemorate Guru Rinpoche responsible for bringing Buddhism to Bhutan. Many of the dances were first started by Shabdrung, a Tibetan Buddhist lama, who unified Bhutan in 1634. The dances are performed by monks as well as lay people and will bring blessings to the onlookers as well as instructing them about the Buddhist Dharma.

Please get in touch with us if you like to visit Bhutan during one of their Tsechu festivals, for more information take a look at our Cultural Tours of Bhutan

Roland Hunter

Monday, 8 February 2016

Happy Lhosar! Buddhist New Year and year of Male Fire Monkey starts on February 9th, 2016

Tomorrow is the Buddhist New Year known as Lhosar (“Lho” meaning year and “Sar” meaning new). Lhosar 2016 starts the year of the Male Fire Monkey and this festival is celebrated in Buddhist communities around the world.

The celebration of Lhosar can be traced back to the pre-Buddhist Bön period where every winter people offered large quantities of incense to appease the local spirits, deities and protectors .

Photo: 2016 is the year of the Male Fire Monkey
In Kathmandu the monasteries around the city such as the important Boudhanath stupa will be thronged during this festival. The monks will partake in auspicious dances accompanied by horns and cymbals. The people will come to the monasteries in their traditional dress and during the day there will be singing and dancing.

Happy Lhosar and New Year to all of the readers of this blog and best wishes for the year of the Male Fire Monkey.

Roland Hunter

The Mountain Company