Festival Etiquette

Festivals are spiritual celebration 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 spiritually consecrated 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 yidams, 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 otherwise intrude on the dance space. Common courtesy should rule one’s action when photographing dances or onlookers.

Festivals are not pageants or entertainment events. They are not held as tourist attractions. They are genuine manifestations of spiritual traditions thousands of years old, which outsiders are given the privilege of witnessing. We would like to see that privilege retained, without in any way impairing or infringing on the beauty and sacredness of the ritual.

Please bear in mind that some past actions of unthinking visitors have caused shock and dismay to the local people. Any recurrence of such unfortunate events may lead to future restrictions on attendance at festivals.

We hope that our tour members will always display courtesy, sensitivity and respect to the people of Bhutan, who have welcomed them to attend these beautiful and sacred events and will visibly demonstrate their respect by dressing as well as their circumstances permits on such occasions.