Tshechu means ‘tenth day’ in Dzongkha. It is the biggest festival which is celebrated annually in autumn for three to four days, on the tenth day of the lunar calendar. It is a colorful celebration of the happy synthesis of changing nature with many moods of Bhutanese culture. It is held in various monasteries or dzongs to honor and commemorate the birth of Guru Rinpoche (also known as Guru Padmasambhava) who is believed to have brought Buddhism to Bhutan in the 8th Century. The exact month of Tshechu varies from place to place and temple to temple. It is a unique, colorful and exciting display of Bhutanese traditional culture and an occasion to socialize, entertain, receive blessings and wash away sins. Large markets congregate at these festivals, that encourage brisk commerce and social bonding among people as well.
Sacred Cham dances accompanied by folk songs and music are performed jointly by villagers and monks dressed in colorful and ornate dresses with faces covered with wooden masks. These dances showcase and re-enact the events that took place during the life of Guru Padmasambhava and they mostly depict the triumph of good over evil.
The highlight and the grand finale of the festival is the unfurling of the thongdrol or Thangka (scroll painting) down the side of the Dzong in the early hours of the morning. For the devotees, to witness the unfurling of the Thangka is to accumulate merits and receive blessings that lead on towards enlightenment, the ultimate goal of Buddhism.
Thimphu Tshechu and Paro Tshechu are the biggest in terms of audience and participation. Visitors from all over the world flock to witness these festivals.