Cultural Delight: Bhutanese Festivals In Photos

One of the most unforgettable experiences from our Bhutan trip is witnessing the Thimpu Drubchen and Paro Dromche festival. A visit to this foreign land, and we realize how ignorant we are of the rich culture and traditions that every community preserves so painstakingly.

As we watched the magic of both the festival unfold before us, we were mesmerized by the spiritual fervor of the otherwise mellow Bhutanese locals. Perhaps our prime reason to travel to Bhutan in October, to witness the two most important festivals, was indeed right. These festivals are a colorful melange of the country’s culture.

So now that we are somewhat more culturally aware, we have some idea what these festivals are all about. Thimpu Drubchen festival takes place right before the bigger celebratory event called the Thimpu Tshechu which lasts for three days. Thimpu Drubchen is, on the other hand, just one day of festivity where sacred dances are performed by monks to honor Palden Lhamo – the prime protective deity of the Bhutanese people.

Our newly made friend, Thinley Tshering told us that each of the Drubchen dances had a special religious significance. I found the Cham dance (mask and costume dance by monks) to be most fascinating. The Cham dancers performed the energetic routine with such grace and gusto, I just couldn’t take my eyes off of them. Apparently, the Cham dance is meant to bless the onlookers and ward off evil negativity.

Now I don’t know if being part of the audience brought us any good fortune or not. But I do know that witnessing both the festivals blessed us with so many novel experiences and cherished memories – they have to be the prime highlights of our trip. And it was definitely a good decision to travel to Bhutan during the festival time. Ah, the Bhutanese festivals – what spectacle!

Thimphu Drubchen

Travel to Bhutan for the Thimphu Festival

Pretty excited to make it to the festival – just a pose with our friend Thinley before the spectacle

Thimphu Festival

The entrance of the Dzong had this impressive structure fixed onto the wall

Thimphu Festival

Head of Thimphu gracing the festival – the view from his chamber must be spectacular

Travel to Bhutan for the Thimphu Festival

The central monk body enjoys the clear view of the entire festival

Thimphu Festival

Cham dancer enticing the crowd and warding off the evil

Thimphu Festival

Local Bhutanese folk dancers performing and dancing

cultural bhutan festival

Fun celebrations at the Thimphu Dzong


Paro Festival

As the ceremony unfurled, various clowns addressed the crowd, and made them laugh!

Paro Festival

Folk artists wearing colorful costumes and playing trumpet

Paro Festival

Paro Domche Festival in the Dzong

Paro Festival

Minister sitting in his chamber and watching the show

Paro Festival

Masked monks performed amidst huge fanfare

Paro Festival

Buddhist monks playing the Lawah (long trumpet)

Paro Festival

Even in Paro Dromche, masked dancers re-enacted an episode of the war against the Tibet

Paro Festival

Harsh striking a pose with the friendly monks just before we made an exit

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Author: Prerna

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  • Reply Joe October 11, 2016 at 3:40 pm

    Awesome stuff! The photos are a riot of colour and exuberance, and it looks like a whole lot of fun to throw yourself in to this. I definitely can believe a festival like this can ward off evil negativity, that’s for sure. I’m reading more and more great things about Bhutan, so much so that I might just have to add it to my bucket list 🙂

    • Reply admin October 11, 2016 at 4:10 pm

      Hey Joe, there’s not even an iota of doubt about the fact that Bhutan is a gem of a country. I mean there was beauty, culture, smiles, food, and tranquility. I am so much in love with the country and its people. 🙂

  • Reply Sanne - Spend Life Traveling October 11, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    Wow that must have been an amazing experience! I love your pictures, they definitely make me want to go there!

    • Reply admin October 12, 2016 at 5:32 pm

      Hey Sanne, we hope you can make it in 2016 or next year. Bhutan is gorgeous and well worth a visit. There’s so much beauty at every step. 🙂

  • Reply Maggie October 11, 2016 at 11:38 pm

    What a fun experience! Love all the photos, they make you feel like you are really there. Love experiencing other cultures, this seems like the perfect way to do it.

    • Reply admin October 12, 2016 at 5:33 pm

      Yes, being a part of the prime festival did help us know more about the region and its culture. Love Bhutan! 🙂

  • Reply Laura October 12, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    Wow! We want to go to Bhutan and after reading this post makes us want to go even more! The pictures are amazing, I love the colours on them. It’s great that you learn about the meaning behing the festival!

    • Reply admin October 12, 2016 at 5:35 pm

      This makes us happy. We’d love to know what you thought of the festival once you’ve visited the beauty for yourself. 😉

  • Reply Emily October 13, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    Wow – the more I read about Bhutan the more I want to go there. I’ll have to try to coincide my visit with a festival – so colourful and what beautiful costumes. I love being in a country at festival time; looks like there was a great atmosphere.

  • Reply admin October 13, 2016 at 3:45 pm

    Hi Emily – Bingo, even we planned our Bhutan holidays keeping in mind their festivals. And without doubt, we made the right decision. I’m glad you liked our photographs. 🙂

  • Reply Fairytale Studios October 13, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    I was lucky enough to attend one such festival in Leh, Ladakh. Lovely write up and great pictures.

    • Reply admin November 4, 2016 at 1:44 pm

      Thank you 🙂

  • Reply Jasmine October 13, 2016 at 10:53 pm

    Wow your photos are amazing!! This looks like it’s was such a good experience 🙂

  • Reply L J Legend October 13, 2016 at 11:23 pm

    I love this post. you have amazing photos, I want to go to Bhuntan now. Great post keep up the good work.

  • Reply Sheena October 14, 2016 at 3:03 am

    These festivals look amazing! It looks like you really got involved in it, I love the photo of you with the monks, I took many like this in Myanmar 🙂 I will look to plan my Bhutan trip around some major festivals, thanks for the tip

    • Reply admin November 4, 2016 at 1:47 pm

      Definitely Sheena, you are going to love it during the festivals in Bhutan. The country is just magical during that time.

  • Reply Brian October 14, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    I’ve never heard of either festival. When I think of Bhutan, I think of Gross National Happiness. It looks like I imagine Tibet looking.

  • Reply Julie Cao October 16, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    The Drubchen and Paro Dromche festival look amazing, and I love the colorful decorations of the temple and the dress of the folk artists. Do you guys allow to dance with them or have an audience dancing session? That would be much more enjoyable.

    • Reply admin November 4, 2016 at 1:56 pm

      Hi Julie, no they don’t allow the audience to be a part of the dancing sessions. Of course that would be enjoyable but then the monks are the ones performing plays.

  • Reply Sia October 17, 2016 at 8:35 am

    This looks so interesting! I would love to see the traditional dances performed by monks. Also, playing the long trumpets would probably be a great cultural performance as well. What kind of music they make? So many colors in these photos and a festival like that is the perfect way to emerge in the culture of the locals and get to know their beliefs and traditions.

  • Reply RJ April 18, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    How amazing to be able to witness the traditional dances and practices of other cultures. It’s amazing how they often make you stop and think about your own.

  • Reply Carmen Baguio April 28, 2017 at 12:10 am

    I love your pictures! I’m a big fan of festivals, and these look like so much fun. The colors and dance look so vibrant!

  • Reply Bravo January 1, 2018 at 8:22 am

    Beautiful photographs and fascinating article! Thank you for sharing your experiences.

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