Phub Dem | Paro

There was no snowfall in most parts of the country this year but natives of Paro believe it could be because the annual Paro tshechu was held behind closed doors last year.

As Paro tshechu is scheduled for March 24, local leaders say the people were worried if the tshechu celebration would be a closed-door affair like last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Paro Dzongkhag Tshogdu chairperson Tshering Dorji said that, considering the locals’ sentiments and adhering to the health protocol, the dzongkhag proposed live streaming of mask dances on BBS television.

He said that it was risky to conduct the usual celebration as the tshechu attracted a huge gathering, and there were possibilities of outbreak anytime.

Doteng Gup Letho said that people associated every disaster with not having the usual tshechu celebration. “If tshechu isn’t conducted, as usual, they believe that crop yield will be poor.”

Following the concerns raised by the natives, the dzongkhag wrote to the Ministry of Home and Culture Affairs to seek approval to live stream the tshechu programme except for entertainment.

The live streaming will include boechhams, monastic mask dances, Woochupai Zhey and chipdrel procession.

The public and monastic mask dancers would have limited interaction with separate practising halls. “Gathering of spectators will not be allowed, and those who must participate in the event will follow strict Covid-19 protocol.”

As per the dzongkhag’s directives, the mask dancers have to remain in a quarantine facility from the beginning until the end of the tshechu to contain the risk of infection to the public.  They also have to undergo testing before they leave for their homes.

Paro’s culture officer Sangay Dorji said, “Starting from nangcham to the last day of tshechu, including Thongdrel, will be screened on BBS.”

Last year, the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs had also issued a notification stating that any significant event, including tshechu and religious ceremonies for the year, should be conducted inside the Rabdey to avoid public gathering.