Photo Essay | Faces from Bhutan's Tshechu

Text and photos : Akash Dixit

 

Printed against a background image of an age old monastery, the back of my boarding pass read "Happiness is a place".
The in-flight magazines, as I put my seatbelt on sometime in October of 2016, too talked about the place being synonymous with happiness.

When I finally left for Bhutan, 'the happiest place on Earth', I made sure to plan my trip around The Tshechus, and I’m glad I did.  

Tshechus are the annual cultural festivals of this happy nation. The word Tshechus translates to the ‘tenth day’, as it is celebrated on the tenth day of a lunar month (depending on the place you're in, the month will differ) in the Tibetan Calendar. It is celebrated in the honour of Guru Rimpoche, the saint who brought Buddhism to Bhutan. 

The Bhutanese try to attend this festival at least once in a lifetime, I was told. They'd gather in their finest, most colourful Ghos and Kiras (traditional Bhutanese male and female attire respectively) to watch the cham dances that the festival is centred around.  To many of them, it is an important annual family affair, and a blessing, to watch these dances.  

During the trip, the itinerary took me to the Tiger-Nest Monastery, the Buddha Dordenma, and a bunch of other places, which definitely lived up to the hype that Bhutan creates. Tshechus, however, were one of the most authentic ways to experience the living culture of Bhutan. The festival gave me the best opportunity to dabble in the sort of photography I most love— portrait-making.

I leave you with a few from the trip.

 

Kids and adults, everyone is in their finest. Tshechu at Thimpu.

 

Quite a contagious smile. At the National Chorten, Thimpu.

 

Something had upset him, but seems like the camera made him curious.

 

Masked dancer, Tsechu at Haa Valley

 

This happy old man is wearing a colourful Gho. Absolutely no dearth of bright vibes here.

 

Some style in the time of Tshechus

 

Akash Dixit is an etymology enthusiast and marketing professional, who runs around to places that his camera makes the most of.