I happened to be in Bhutan during the third week of March and this is when the famous Paro Tshechu festival is organised. I was fortunate enough to be a part of this Spring Festival and trust me, I would not have missed it for anything!
When I first heard about the festival, I had no idea how it would be but the experience was mind blowing! The Paro Tshechu festival is the largest festival in Bhutan and it is held in the month of March, the dates vary each year and are declared in advance. This is a festival where you will see monks and laymen celebrating the festival together. It brings out the best in locals too, they wear bright, colorful traditional outfits and people of all ages enjoy this festival.
Monks wear masks which represent demons and Gods and they enact mythological stories of Bhutan. It is all about the traditional music, dance and cultural celebrations. The monks mingle with laymen and celebrate together. They replay the scenes from legendary tales which have historical significance. The best part about the festival is when people get to see a glimpse of the 350 year old Thangkha. It is the oldest Buddhist religious scroll which carries narratives from history. It is of high importance because it celebrates the significant deeds of Guru Rimpoche. This festival thanks deities for their blessings and it includes dance forms like Shingie Yabyum which is the dance of the lord of death, the dance of the drums from Drametse, the dance of the lords of the cremation grounds and many others.
It is a massive festival and thousands gather in the city to socialize and dance. As a visitor, the best thing about the festival was the hospitality and discipline in the locals. It has a vibrant feel and the intricate face masks are something that will catch your attention. There are cute children dressed in their best traditional attire and it is the best time to learn about the culture and the tradition of Bhutan. The locals at the festival are extremely disciplined and well behaved. They ensure that visitors are comfortable and they go out of their way to give you the best seat in the audience. Everything at the festival is very different from the festivals that are celebrated in India.
If you are in headed to Bhutan in March, I highly recommend you to pick dates during Paro Tschechu. It will be an experience of a lifetime. Visiting Bhutan during a festival is a whole different feeling and it is something one should not miss out on.