RELIGIOUS FESTIVALS :

Bhutan being the Buddhist kingdom and numerous festivals are held and have different names according to the types, the best and the biggest event is called Tsechus. Tsechus are festivals extolling the great deeds of Guru Rimpoche, taken place on the 10th day of the month which is meaning the word tsechu. The tsechu are displayed annually in different occasion in all the district dzongs, ancient monasteries, special religious places in the villages to commemorate the religious victory over the evils. During this festivals many people will gather from the surrounding countryside with their best out looks The tsechu celebration will be celebrated for several days, between three to five days according to the location. The dances are performed by the monks and laymen and the performance of the dances are similar to one region to the another region. Certain tsechus end with the hanging a huge religious paintings which are called ‘Thongdrel’ meaning ‘ by viewing the religious painting one will be delivered from the cycle of reincarnations. Some tsechus end with ‘wang’ meaning the verbal blessing given by the high monk and colored threads are then distributed which the people tie them around their necks as witness to the blessing. Some tsechus start by ‘me-wang’ meaning ‘blessed fire’, as the people jump over a fire which burns away their impurities.Atsaras are clowns whose expressive masks and postures are in indispensable element in any religious festival. They confront the monks, toss out salacious jokes, and distract the crowd with their antics when the religious dances begin to grow tedious. Atsaras are believed to represent the Achariyas , 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.

For the Bhutanese, religious festivals offer an opportunity to become immersed in the meaning of their religion and to gain much merit. They are also occasion for seeing people, and for been seen, for social exchanges, and for flaunting success. People bring out their finest clothes, their most beautiful jewels, they take out picnics rich with meat and abundant alcohol. Men and women joke and flirt. An atmosphere of convivial, slightly ribald good humor prevails.

RELIGIOUS DANCES AND MUSIC

Religious dances are called "cham" and there are a large number of them. Dancers wear spectacular costumes made of yellow silk or rich brocade, often decorated with ornaments of craved bones. For certain dances they wear masks which represent animals, fearsome deities, skull, manifestations of Guru Rimpoche or just plain human beings. The masks are so heavy that dancers protect themselves from injury by binding their heads with strips of cloth to support the mask. The dancers see out through the opening of the mouth.

Dances are base on the religious example for the ordinary people giving the idea of the good and bad, and of the god and the evil which are explained through the dances like the Judgment of the Death, Purifying and protecting a place from evil spirits, Dance of the cremation ground, Dance of the fearsome gods, Dance of the Guru Rimpoche with eight manifestation, Black Hat dance of magical performance, Dance of the stag and the hunting dog, Moral dance of the princes and the princesses etc.



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