The Tshechu is a festival in honour of Padmasambhava, the second Buddha “one who was born from the lotus flower”, popularly known as “Guru Rinpoche”, or the Precious Teacher. This saint contributed enormously to the diffusion of Tantric Buddhism in the Himalayan regions of Tibet, Nepal, and Bhutan etc. around 8 century A.D. During a Tshechu, the dances are performed by the monks as well as by laymen. The dances known as Cham, bring blessing upon the onlookers, instruct them in dharma (Buddhist teachings), protect them from misfortune, and exorcise evil influences. By attending a Tshechu, it is believed one gains merits, power and benediction, and that misfortunes may be destroyed, luck increased and wishes realized. It is also a yearly social gathering where people come together to rejoice.
Bhutanese culture and Buddhist influence go hand-in-hand. The influence of religion is highly visible in every day life and is a major reason for Bhutan’s spiritual and cultural legacy. The hundreds of sacred monasteries, stupas, religious institutions, prayer flags and prayer wheels make Buddhism a faith that nowadays still is very alive and probably always will be in the kingdom. Not only this makes Bhutan a very authentic country; it is also because of the traditional woven garments the people wear, the typical robust yet refined architecture and the splendid cultural festivals which are steeped in Buddhism. All of these combined make Bhutan into a unique cultural setting.
All religious ceremonies and rituals (and there are many!) are regularly performed, with reverence for all of life. All Bhutanese families go on a pilgrimage on auspicious days, offering prayers and butter lamps to the gods of the Himalayas. National and regional festivals coincide with the seasons, happening all year round.
Festivals are religious events. The ground where they are held is purified and consecrated by lamas, so when you are watching a festival, you are in essence, on the perimeter of an outdoor religious ground. The conduct of the onlooker should be governed with this in mind. The dancers, whether monks or laymen, are in state of meditation. They transform themselves into deities which they represent on the dance ground. They generate a spiritual power, which cleanses, purifies, enlightens and blesses the spectators. With this in mind, it should be clear that obtrusive, disrespectful or discourteous behavior is out of place. The dance ground is not a place to eat, drink or smoke, talk or laugh loudly at inappropriate times, flash cameras or intrude on the dance space. Common courtesy should rule one's action when photographing dances or onlookers.
Gross National Happiness
Three factors have put forth great influence on the course of Bhutan’s development. First being the culture. As Bhutan was never conquered or colonized, the country developed a culture relatively free from outside influence, the institution of monarchy, and a deep sense of nationhood. The second factor is the environment, which is protected by mountainous, often difficult terrain. Thirdly, Vajrayana Buddhism has given the country a view of the world on which the 3rd and 4th Kings based their policies of developing Bhutan’s potential in every field. This continuing development of Bhutan has been crystallized in a philosophy crafted by His Majesty King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, known as Gross National Happiness (GNH) in the late 1980s. The concept of the GNH defines Bhutan’s development objective as improvement in the happiness and satisfaction of the people rather than growth of Gross National Product (GNP). GNH has been the overarching development philosophy of Bhutan as the concept has guided the country’s development policies and programmes. GNH suggests that happiness is the ultimate objective of development. It recognizes that there are many dimensions to development other than those associated with Gross National Product (GNP), and that development" needs to be understood as a process that seeks to maximize happiness rather than purely economic growth.
Until recently, the tiny Asian kingdom of Bhutan remained tucked away in total isolation from the rest of the world. That segregation helped to preserve its deep Buddhist traditions, importance of the family and pristine landscapes. It’s also made it a fascinating country to study. 1. One of 43 landlocked countries in the world, Bhutan is about half the size of the state of Indiana. 2. The word “Bhutan” translates to “Land of the Thunder Dragon.” It earned the nickname because of the fierce storms that often roll in from the Himalayas. 3. Bhutan is the first country in the world with specific constitutional obligations on its people to protect the environment. Among its requirements: At least 60 percent of the nation must remain under forest cover at all times.
People And Society
The Three main ethnic groups, the “Sharchops”, “Ngalops” and the “Lhotsampas” (of Nepali origin) make up today’s Drukpa population. The earliest residents of Bhutan are the Sharchops whose origin can be traced to the tribes of northern Burma and northeast India. The Ngalops migrated from the plains of Tibet and brought Buddhism into the land. The other minority groups are the Bumthaps and the Khengpas of Central Bhutan, the Kurtoeps in Lhuentse, the Brokpas and the Bramis of Merak and Sakteng in eastern Bhutan, the Doyas of Samtse and finally the Monpas of Rukha villages in WangduePhodrang. Together the multiethnic Bhutanese population number just over 700,000.
Arts And Craft
As with its architecture, art and crafts are important aspects of Bhutanese culture and they bear testimony to the spiritual depth of Bhutanese life. Generations of Bhutanese artisans have passed down incredible artistic skills and knowledge. There are thirteen forms of traditional arts & crafts known as Zorig Chosum (Zo means “to make”, Rig means “science”, Chosum means “thirteen”). The thirteen art forms include: woodwork, stonework, sculpture, carving, painting, black smithy, silver & gold-smithy, fabric weaving, embroidery/applique, bamboo & cane craft, paper making, masonry and leather work. Bhutan government is also concerned on all this arts and crafts and the government has set up few institutes called NIZC (National Institute of Zorig Chusum) where the young Bhutanese generations are trained in aforementioned art forms.
Everywhere in the country, you’ll find Bhutan’s mythology expressed in many different ways. Most striking is the name its inhabitants have for the kingdom, Druk Yul, literally meaning ‘land of the thunder dragon’ in Bhutanese mythology. You find the fierce white dragon in the national flag and weapon and during the Tsechus – Bhutan’s most important festivals – there are many expressions of and references to the dragon. Even Bhutan’s leaders are known as the Druk Gyalpo: the dragon kings. Every part of Bhutan’s national flag is symbolic for the country’s general features. Divided diagonally, the flag has a white dragon across the middle. The white colour is not only an expression of purity and loyalty, it also represents the diverse ethnic and linguistic groups. The dragon’s growling mouth, which is an expression of the strength of many deities, protects the jewels which are hold in his paws. These jewels represent prosperity, wealth and perfection. The upper yellow part of the flag represents the king’s secular power and fruitful action in both religious and state affairs. The lower orange part represents the spiritual power and religious practice of Bhutan’s Mahayana (tantric) Buddhist religion.
Icon Of Bhutan
Taktshang Goemba or Tiger’s Nest Monastery was blessed and sanctified as one of Bhutan’s most sacred religious sites. It hangs on a cliff and stands above a beautiful forest of blue pine and rhododendrons.ReadMore
Festival Dates 2016
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