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Bhutanese Festivals: October - A month of festivity in western dzongkhags

For the people of the western dzongkhags of Thimphu, Paro, Haa and Wangdue Phodrang, October is the busiest and exciting month. It is a month of lucrative business as well. Apart from the Dromchoes and Tshechus, fete, and sports meet, various forms of entertainment such as Bhutanese feature films, exhibitions, song competition, food and folk music festival are planned this month.

Thimphu Drupchen
Several thousand devotees are attending the Lham Tsomo dance, a highlight of the 15-day annual Thimphu Domchoe festival, in the courtyard of Tashichhodzong.

Led by His Holiness the Je Khenpo, the annual Lhamoi Drupchen (domchoe) is a rite performed for Pelden Lhamo (Mahakali), one of the three main spiritual protectors of the Drukpa Kagyue school of Buddhism.

The Drupchen was instituted some time between 1705 and 1709 by Kuenga Gyaltshen, the first reincarnation of Jampel Dorji, the son of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal.

According to legend, Pelden Lhamo appeared before him and performed the dances while he was in meditation. Based on these dances, Kuenga Gyeltshen initiated the Drupchen. The Thimphu Tshechu was introduced in 1687 during the reign of the fourth Desi, Tenzin Rabgye.

The annual Phurpai Drupchen (Vajra tradition) ceremony at the National Memorial Chorten concludes with the Nguedup Langwa (receiving of spiritual wisdom/power) in the morning and Jinseg (a sacred fire offering) later in the day.
The eight-day ceremony is being performed in three groups led by three lams, including the Thimphu Chorten Lam. The Phurpai Drupchen was started in 1974 and became an annual ceremony in 1981.


The Paro Drupchen is dedicated to Yeshey Goenpo or Mahakala, the protecting deity of Bhutan. The Gonpoi Drupchen was introduced in Paro, Wangduephodrang and Trongsa by the 68th Je Khenpo, His Holiness Tenzin Dendup, in 1987 for the well being of the country.
All the government offices under Paro dzongkhag remained closed on the occasion of Paro Domchoe.


Haa Tshechu
The Haa valley also saw a heap of activities over the past week starting with the IMTRAT mela followed by the three-day dance festival, Haa Tshechu. The Haa Tshechu, which was introduced in 1990, began with the unfurling of the Guru Thongdrel. Only two years ago the Haa Rabdey was taking dancers from Paro and Thimphu but now has its own dancers. The Haa rabdey was established in 1983 in the Lhakhang Karpo.


The spirit of celebration during the Tshechu holidays will not confined to western dzongkhags alone with Bhutan's Hindu community celebrating the Dashain on October. The Dashain, which symbolises the victory of good over evil, was declared a national holiday in Bhutan by His Majesty the King in 1980.

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