Festivals anywhere in the world is a grand enthusiastic affair. It is a vibrant experience for the locals as well as tourists from all over the world. The entire kingdom that is nestled in the lap of the Himalayas springs to life, color, and Vigour. Being followers of Buddhism, they hold their traditions and belief system very close to their hearts. As a part of the ritual, they reenact the various stages of the life of Gautam buddha. Other famous ethnic festivals are dedicated to Guru Rimpoche – the saint responsible for introducing and spreading Buddhism in Bhutan during the 8th century.
Here are the famous festivals of the ‘happiest country in the world’:
List of 8 Most Famous Festival in Bhutan
1. Thimphu Tshechu Festival
Considered to be the biggest and the most popular festival of Bhutan this festival has also earned its spot for being the national festival of Bhutan. The festival takes place over a duration of 3 days during the 10th to the 8th month of the lunar calendar. Continuous prayers take place by the saints and monks to invoke the divine god. You can witness this spectacle taking place at the festival ground or also known as Tendrel thang. The celebrations precede the actual day of festivities. The highlight of this festival is the traditional dance of the masked men. It is believed that attending and witnessing this festival will bless every onlooker with good fortune for the rest of their life. Dancing is the core component of this celebration where even monks dance it out to their heart’s content.
2. Jambay Lhakhang Drup Festival
The centre of this festival is in the Jambay Lhakhang Temple in Bumthang. The main part of this festival comprises mask dancing, fire dancing, and even naked dancing! The festival spans for a duration of 4 days and marks the foundation laying ceremony of the Jambay Lhakhang Temple to honor Guru Rinpoche. One of the main attractions of this festival is the fire ceremony which is also known as Mewang. The flaming structure is set alight which is made out of dry grass with people dancing underneath it. Another major event is the ‘dance of treasure’ or Tercham wherein masked dancers and monks dance naked. The festivities commence in the middle of the night and continue on for the rest of the day.
3. Wangdue Phodrang Tsechu Festival
The festival draws its name from the region where it takes place which adorns the central part of Bhutan. The festival’s history dates back to the 1630s when the construction of the fortress or the dzong was completed. This celebration is mainly famous for its ornamental speeches and local songs are known as Lozeys. The people and tourists celebrate the gift of life and merriment. A grand and much-awaited event in this festival is the ‘dance of the ox’ where people ensure a peaceful life after death. This festival which takes place over a duration of 3 days ends with the unfurling of the massive holy scroll of different paintings. The festival takes place during the months of October and November.
4. Jomolhari Mountain Festival
Considered to be one of the most exquisite and colorful events to take place in Bhutan this celebration takes place over a duration of just 2 days. Being one of the most famous festivals of Bhutan and celebrated on the foothills of the overlooking mount Jomolhari, this iconic festival is celebrated all along with the; scenic trekking locations. The main purpose of the festival involves deep admiration for the communities of people living together in great harmony. It is also a celebration of the peaceful coexistence of humans and the grand nature surrounding them. Another interesting aspect of this festival is the ‘snow leopard festival’ which showcases the awareness of the declining number of snow leopards and their need to preserve them in the region.
5. Nimalung Festival
Vibrant folk attire, masked dances and traditional rituals is what makes this festival centered around the folk dances. The festival normally takes place over a duration of 3 days and each day is celebrated through masked traditions, folk Bhutanese dances. Chumey in Bhutan is the center stage of this festival where the celebrations take place in accordance with traditional customs and folk culture. The main highlight is the masked dancing that looks extremely unique. Apart from the obvious grand celebrations, the locals and tourists attending the festival also make it a point to beseech the gods to get rid of their troubles, problems, and misfortune. People from far and nearby villages throng here during the festival days along with the tourists for this grand celebration and also to witness their wonderfully colorful culture.
6. Sakteng Festival
Sakteng is a scenic valley situated in Bhutan. For 3 days in the summer month of June, this valley which adorns the eastern part of the beautiful Himalayan kingdom turns into a festive wonderland. The ethnic inhabitants of the semi-nomadic tribe of Brokpas, celebrate this festival with great enthusiasm. the Sakteng festival goes on for about 3 days on the village grounds, allowing people from the surrounding neighboring villages and tourists to take part in the festivities. The people dress up in their colorful traditional attire and are or the locally produced wine is another one of the most awaited additions to the festivities. All this happens alongside singing, dancing, and general merrymaking.
7. Takin Festival
Takin is the national animal of Bhutan. It has numerous legendary stories dedicated to them and is said to have the face of a goat and the body of a cow. The festival normally takes place in the month of February on the Tashithrang grounds. The main aim of this unique festival is to make people aware of the endangered nature of their national animal. The ground which is the stage for this festival is inside the wildlife reserve for takins to roam around freely. Rich in medicinal plants and hot water springs Gasa is situated at a distance of around 5 hours from Thimpu. Nomads can be seen pitching their tents around the time of this festival. They also set up shops for selling locally made yak cheese, butter, leather goods, bamboo items, and handmade crafts.
8. Nomad Festival
This one-day long festival takes place mainly in the Bumthang region of Bhutan which is situated at a distance of 10 hours from the main city of Thimphu. Normally this festival takes place in the month of February. One of the main highlight events of the nomad festival is the Chipdrel procession which is a royal procession and features various indigenous arts, handicrafts, and foods in various stalls. Highlanders sale is another prominent feature of the festival. The highlanders refer to the dwellers of Sakteng and Laya who sell their locally made products here including fermented cheese and conical hats.