With the festive mood already on beginning with the lhamoi drubchoe on Saturday the capital city will be full of colours this week. Young and old dressed in their best will parade the Thimphu tshechu at the Tendrel thang (ground) to witness the mask dances and get blessed.
As most of us prepare for a long break from work, it is a good time to reflect on the festivity that has already kicked off in some dzongkhags. If the crowd at the drubchoe on Saturday is anything to go by, we are on the right track in preserving a tradition that has been alive for generations.
The pattern or the cost of the expensive tshechu wear must have changed, but the reverence has not. Many avoid tshechus because of the crowd and the limited place to witness the sacred dances. Some make sure they attend at least one day and some get up as early as 5 am to ensure that they have a proper view of the tshechu.
Given all the modern trends we see today, along with the concerns that tradition is being diluted, it is re-assuring that an increasing number of Bhutanese are attending the festivals every year. While the occasion might be more meaningful for the older generation who understands the importance of tshechu, a large majority of the crowd is youth. This is encouraging.
When it comes to tradition and culture, our youth are always at the receiving end as they are blamed for aping western or other cultures, especially the attire. There are certain things that we need not tell them. Going to tshechu is one. Whether it is going in groups with friends or to enjoy a picnic with family around the dzong or to understand the values of our tradition, the participation is appreciated. This goes beyond tshechus. On any given auspicious day, the crowd at the lahkhang or a dzong will not miss the youth.
Over the next five days, Thimphu will wear a different look. The town centre will be a walking zone as it gets converted to a large open-air feat. To cater to both tourists and locals, outdoor shops and entertainment will spring up. The festivities will include a number of fund-raising concerts and dances as well as pepped up bars and discotheques. It will be one big party.
As we eagerly wait for the long holiday, it is also good to remind ourselves to be cautious. From taking care of our rubbish at the Tendrel thang to being a disciplined member of the crowd, small things would matter to make our festival a successful one.
Beyond the dzong, the festive mood takes a different turn, especially in the evenings. In the excitement of the festive mood, some could brew trouble and cut short their holiday. From past experience, petty crime increases during long public holidays. It would be nice to go back to school or work with a good experience of the much-awaited holiday.