The Festivals of the Kingdom of Bhutan
Bhutan, the ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon‘, is a royal kingdom landlocked by the Himalayas, creating a breath-taking backdrop in which to experience Bhutan’s culture, heritage, and spirituality
The festivals of Bhutan are grand events known for their vibrancy and richness of culture, happy events where entire communities come together to witness religious performances, receive blessings, and socialize.
There is an abundance of festivals throughout the Buddhist calendar and take place all over the Kingdom, these are joyous occasions and involve centuries old rituals.
Extravagant costumed dance acts, beguiling fire performances, narratives recited from legends, and eloquent masks give birth to vibrance and expression of the Buddhist culture. Buddhism was introduced to Bhutan by Padmasambhava also known as Guru Rinpoche the Saint in the early 8th century and the legendary victories are re-enacted across the Kingdom.
Bhutan’s many festivals are celebrated by local audiences and attract visitors from around the globe.
The Thimphu Tshechu Festival, held in the capital Thimphu is also known as the National Festival of Bhutan, and is the largest and most popular celebration in the country. The festival begins on the tenth day of the eighth lunar month, takes place over three days and nights of rituals and prayer to invoke the gods. It is believed that those who attend the festival will receive good fortune.
Costumed dances include the Dance of the Black Hats and masked movements performed by monks. Rituals and prayers continue for a full three days, concluding with the display of beautifully painted giant, holy thangka.
Thimphu is an occasion to celebrate, receive blessings and pray for health and happiness.
WHERE TO STAY?
SIX SENSES THIMPU
In the shadow of the Himalayas, the architecture and design of the spacious lodge reflect the values of Bhutanese culture: simplicity, harmony and mindfulness. Thimphu Six Senses offers guests a tranquil space, modern concepts all set on the hillside amongst the orchards and pine forests with extraordinary views across to the valley.
Gangtey Tshechu: October 7-9, 2022
The 400-year-old Gangtey Tshechu is held over three days at Gangtey Goenpa in the picturesque Phobjikha valley. The festival takes place around the same time at Wangdue Tshechu in the large courtyard of the Gangtey monastery.
The mesmerizing and celebrated festival sees monks in uniformed brocade dresses and intricately carved masks perform sacred masked dances, cultural dances and sing folk songs. The festival concludes with Nguedup Langwa, the receiving of spiritual wisdom and power which is a special blessing ritual for the people of Gangtey valley.
WHERE TO STAY?
Amankora Gangtey Lodge
In the little-visited Phobjikha Valley near the village of Gangtey, the boutique Amankora Gangtey Lodge is set on a forested knoll with scenic views of the valley floor and the 16th-century Gangtey Goemba monastery.
The Japanese-influenced interiors are a calming and relaxed space to unwind after a day trekking the remote valleys of Bhutan. Amankora overlooks a tranquil expanse of meadows and woodland that ascends into the Black Mountains. The unique Black Mountains National Park wildlife reserve and the valley is home each winter to a flock of 300 endangered black-neck cranes.