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Punakha celebrates first tshechu in 2005

Punakha celebrated its first three-day tshechu in the dzong following the annual goempoe Drupchen which concluded on February 17, 2005 with the norbu chusani (symbolic immersion of the Rangjung Khasarpani in the Mochu) ceremony.

The first day of the tshechu

The Zhabdrung Phuensum Tshogpa thongdrel was unfurled for public viewing from 4.30am to 9.00 am. The relics of Phajo Drugom Shigpo were also revealed to bless devotees.

Besides the chams performed by the central monk body and the public of Punakha, the Royal Academy of Performing Arts and the central monk body jointly performed a short drama depicting the life of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal.

According to Lam Kunzang of the dratshang the tshechu was initiated with a proposal by the home and cultural affairs minister, Lyonpo Jigmi Y. Thinley, to celebrate Punakha's historical significance.

Kuenga Gyeltshen, 71, of Kabji said he was delighted to have the opportunity to witness a tshechu locally. He had only observed the annual Drupchen so far. "People often go to other places for tshechu celebrations but most of us cannot afford to do so."

People also participated in entertainment programmes like a tug-of-war, shot put, sand-carrying, wood chopping, and traditional wrestling. The tshechu will conclude with the lighting of butter lamps and prayers for the well being of the country.

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Punakha Domchhoe in 2006: Marchang ceremony

More than 1000 people from Punakha and the neighbouring dzongkhags and some tourists are attending the Domchhoe, which started on March 04 and ended on March 08, 2006.

Marchang ceremony
Pazaps bring out a giant bowl into the courtyard of the Punakha Dzong to perform the Marchang ceremony.

On the first two days of the Domchhoe, the monks performed the nfangchham, dance ceremonies performed inside the dukhang of the dzong. It included the zhana chham, the Black Hat dance, and other sacred dances.

The Pazaps (traditional militia force) perform the Maachham, resonating war songs and sounds of explosions from the third day. Firecrackers are thrown into the courtyard of the dzong to recreate the noise of battle.

The Pazaps will perform the Lengmag dance in the presence of His Holiness the Je Khenpo in the Dzong courtyard.

His Holiness, the Je Khenpo
The Domchhoe will end with His Holiness leading the ceremonial procession for the symbolic immersion of the precious relic, Rangjung Kharsapani, into the Mochu River.

According to a Dratshang spokesperson, the immersion ceremony was performed by the Zhabdrung in 1639 to trick the Tibetan invaders into believing that the Rangjung Kharsapani had been thrown into the river.

His Holiness the Je Khenpo

Lopen Gyeltshen, Dratshang administration officer, said that the ritual ceremony of the Domchhoe was to appease the protecting deity of Bhutan, Yeshey Goenpo or Mahakala, and an expression of gratitude to all forms of protecting deities

The three-day Punakha tsechu, which was introduced last year, begun on March 9, 2006.

By Kesang Dema in Punakha, KUENSEL, Bhutan's National Newspaper 2006

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