Festivals (Tshechus) are held in Bhutan throughout the
year at different locations. These festivals are celebrations
of faith, legends, myths and history of Bhutan in ancient
rituals of colorful dance and music. The most popular
for tourists are those held in Thimphu, Paro and Bumthang.
They mark the busiest time of the year for tourism and
reservations are difficult to come by. Festival time is
one of the only periods during a year when tourists are
permitted inside the courtyard of the dzongs. The dzongs
come to life with colour, music and dancing as valley
dwellers and townsfolk dress in their best clothes and
join together to exorcise evil spirits and rejoice in
a new harvest. Rare masked and sword dances and other
rituals are performed in the dzong’s courtyards
and temples. Each dance has its own significance and can
be performed by monks or lay men dressed in bright costumes.
Certain festivals end with the unveiling and worship of
huge religious appliqués or T hongdrels. The moment
of the unveiling is shrouded in secrecy and creates great
excitement amongst all the participants.