Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Three Tshechus in a Week - Part 1

I think its fair to say that it would only be in Bumthang where you could go to three tshechus (festivals) in a week, and moreover, get holidays from work to attend.

I can still sit mesmerised for hours watching the dancing and watching the crowd of people, but the focus of tsechus has changed somewhat and we now spend much of our time catching up with friends - and I'm sure this is the appeal for local people too. A chance to kick back, have a day off work, do a bit of shopping at the stalls, share a picnic, throw back an ara or a beer and catch up on all the gossip.

The week began with Jakar Tsechu held in the 500 year old Jakar Dzong, the administrative centre for Bumthang. The courtyard is fairly small and narrow, but with vantage points from the ground and second floor there were plenty of opportunities for a front row view of the dancing. In the afternoon I went upstairs and a Class 10 student from school carefully explained the dances that had been performed in the afternoon. For the first time I saw the elaborately dressed character who represents the evil deeds we've done in our life - dressed in black and decorated with skulls and real yak hair tassles. We were joined for Jakar Tshechu by Sarah, Kyle and Colin (fellow BCF teachers), Colin's parents from the UK and former Chumey MSS volunteer teacher, Sabrina. Lots of laps for Xavier and Remy to snuggle up in!

View as you enter the courtyard at Jakar Dzong.

Xavier has a great view of all the action.

Everyone is trying to take that one special photo of the twirling mask dancers - about the best I can do with my phone!

This dance acted out the story of the seated man in black receiving his judgement at the end of his life. His good and bad deeds were balanced and he was taken to hell. Resonates strongly with the Christian message.

This fearsome character danced wildly and sang mournfully of all the bad deeds in the man's life.

Next a buddha-like character dressed in white also received his judgement, but his good deeds outweighed the bad and here he is being escorted to 'heaven'.


Unfortunately I spent too much time talking and didn't think to take a photo of the friends we spent the day with. I do have a nice pic to share though from the previous day's walk to Umsang with Colin, Vera and Dennis. After a gorgeous afternoon walk we had our arm twisted for a quick drink of ara before the walk home. We are surrounded by our dear little friends who came for the walk.

Look out for Part 2 - Jambey Lhakang Tsechu in a few days.

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