Tshechus to be an indoor affair

Thinley Namgay

Thimphu dromchoe and tshechu this year will be held indoors.

This is according to the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs’ notification, issued March, which says that festivals and other activities in the dzongkhags this year will have to be conducted behind closed door due to Covid-19 pandemic.

“Rituals and mask dances are allowed, but baychham, cultural items and gathering of people are prohibited,” says the notification.

Zhung Dratshang’s General-Secretary, Lam Yeshi, said that there was no change in this notification so far. “Same mandates could be applied hereafter until the Covid-19 situation subsides.”

As per the notification, while conducting tshechu and regular offerings in the dzongs and temples, it has to be held closed door with safety measures in place.

The Thimphu’s 310th annual Lhamoi Dromchoe falls on September 22. The 333rd Thimphu tshechu starts from September 26, which was introduced in 1687 by Gyalsey Tenzin Rabgye (1638–16960), the fourth Desi of Bhutan.

The Dorji Lopon of the Central Monastic Body graced the chhamju for dromchoe at Tashichhodzong on September 8. Around 300 monks started performing drubchen yesterday. The Thimphu dromchoe was initiated in 1710 by Gyalsey Kunga Gyaltshen (1689 – 1713). He had a clear vision of Shri Mahakali at Chagri monastery while in retreat.

“Based upon his vision of Lhamo Dudsolma and her retinue, he introduced a sacred dance for the public in 1710. The dark deep blue mask of Lhamo Dudsolma and her main attendant Lhamo Remati, along with masks of her entourage, were designed and crafted to his precise instructions according to his vision,” said Lam Yeshi.

During the drubchen, monks perform the intensive practice of Mahakali ( Pelden Lhamo) as the main deity for eleven days in the dubkhang.

Lam Yeshi said that the deity was invoked for the protection, to receive blessing and to make an extensive offering during dromchoe. “Dromchoe is supposed to bring peace and harmony in the country with a bountiful harvest, while averting diseases, conflicts and famine. We all should give more importance and pray to Palden Lhamo this year as she is the guardian mother who keeps away all pandemic diseases at bay.”

Lam Yeshi said that the tshechu would be performed without any interruptions and the mask dances would also be performed as usual. “Only Lham Tsom dances will be broadcast on television during dromchoe and tshechu. Lham Tsom dances are those dances which are dedicated to our guardian deity Palden Lhamo.”

Lam Yeshi said that no jinlab (spiritual blessings) would be compromised just by resorting to live telecast if we have faith. “His Holiness the Je Khenpo directed us during the live telecast on the practice of Sangye Menla to the public a few months back.”

The mask dances practice by the monks is in full swing at present.

Major religious festivals in other dzongkhags also start in September.

Wangduephodrang tshechu, Gangteng tshechu, Tamzhing Phala Choepa and Thangbi Mani in Bumthang happens this month.  Jakar tsechu, Chukha tshechu, Dechenphug tshechu and Jambay Lhakhang drup begins next month.

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