3 Festivals to Attend during Bhutan Holiday Tours

The happiest country in the world, Bhutan is renowned for its immense natural beauty. While its mountainous topography beckons loads of adventure lovers, its monasteries and stupas invite sightseers. One of the best things to do during Bhutan holiday tours is partaking in its culture. It can be done by interacting with the warm-hearted locals or attending music and dance performances. Another thing, which can help tourists get an insight into the long-held traditions, is festivals. Described below are three of the most significant festivals, celebrated all around the country.

Tsechu

Tsechu is dedicated to the deity, Padmasambhava, who founded the Nyingma sect of Tibetan Buddhism. To restore the health of the local king, the deity performed a set of dances that are now known as Cham dances. Some of these performances also depict incidents from the life of other saints. Most Tseshus stretch for four days, during which such performances, some with swords and masks, are held. The festivities conclude with the unfurling of a huge scroll painting, called Thongrel, depicting Padmasambhava with his consorts.

Matsutake Festival

Culinary enthusiasts can visit the approximately 10170-feet high Ura Valley in the dzongkhag of Bumthang during their Bhutan vacation tours to attend the Matsutake Festival. The celebration signals the start of the harvesting season for Matsutake, a type of wild mushroom. Organised in the last weekend of August, the event can help travellers combine their love for food and trekking. They can hike through the spruce and fir forests of the valley along with its inhabitants to pick the mushrooms. The locals can tell globetrotters how to find and identify them. Apart from this, traditional dance and music performances can be attended and delicious mushroom dishes can also be tasted here.

Nomad Festival

One of the unique celebrations to attend during Bhutan holiday tours is the annual Nomad Festival. Hosted in Bumthang, it brings together migrant communities from the Haa, Gasa, Thimphu, Paro, Wangduephodrang and Tashigang dzongkhags. This way, Bumthang becomes a melting pot and exhibition ground of various cultures. While here, holidaymakers will get an insight into the pastoral life, the nomads have been living for ages. They can even dress up like these migrants in attire, made exclusively of yak wool. Sitting around a hearth with crossed legs and eating traditional dishes is another thing tourists can do.

Attending these festivities during Bhutan vacation tours will give visitors a glimpse into the local culture.

Learning about Traditional Textiles during Bhutan Vacation Tours

Thimphu in Bhutan

Thimphu in Bhutan

People, interested in ethnic and traditional clothing, can visit the Textile Museum in Thimphu, as part of their Bhutan tour packages. The primary aim of the establishment is to promote this tradition and keep citizens interested in and practising it. Another objective of the institution is to promote the local culture, and in the years to come, it hopes to become the centre of studies and research on textile in the kingdom. The idea to establish a museum dedicated to this skill was thought by Queen Ashi Wangchuck, one of the four wives of the erstwhile King Jigme Singye Wangchuck. It was founded by funds, donated by the Danish and Bhutanese governments as well as from private parties and with technical support from the United States of America.

Displays and Collections

The collections are according to six themes: achievements in textiles, their role in religion, indigenous fibres, the royal collection, and warp and weft pattern weaves. Among these themes, the exhibits of the royal collection are the most heavily treasured and draw everyone who visits the site. This display consists of pieces of the regal attire like crowns, dresses and other accessories, which members of the royal family used to wear. A robe decorated with pearls from the Tsamdrak Monastery and the bed-linen used by Jigme Dorji, considered as an incarnation of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, is also kept here. More interesting objects of this showcase are the initial form of the raven crown; bronze crown, belonging to the first and second kings; and one belonging to Ashi Wangmo. All these artefacts, including the latter, used by the sister of the first emperor, were all donated to the museum by the royal family itself.

Skills required for spinning, dying of fabrics, preparing handlooms and working with multiple sets of yarn are demonstrated in the ground floor of the building. The first floor displays decorated fabrics across different styles of clothing-related arts and crafts. This exhibition has samples of different types of attire, produced in different regions of the country and also those that are worn during ceremonies and religious occasions. During Bhutan vacation tours, visitors can also see the live process of weaving and colouring as the establishment has hired two people for this purpose.

Familiarising with the Structure of the Government before undertaking Bhutan Tours

Punakha in Bhutan

Punakha in Bhutan

Before undertaking Bhutan vacation tours, it is important to understand the politics of the mountainous kingdom. It is a constitutional monarchy, wherein the king is the head of the state, but the main decisions are taken by the council of ministers. Bhutan has always been a sovereign nation as it was never colonised owing to its difficult topography. The British however, according to the Treaty of Punakha, were to decide all of its policies. After the Indian Independence in 1947, the same policy was continued, but with loads of modification and new clauses. Abiding by the agreement, India does not interfere with its internal matters and Bhutan seeks the guidance of the former country. However, now the treaty has been disregarded by both countries, further strengthening the claim of Bhutanese sovereignty.

Executive Structure

The national constitution provides for three branches of the government: executive, legislature and judiciary. A separate religious institution called Dratshang Lhentshog or the Monastic Affairs Commission also exists. Its job is to manage the duties of the sect of Tibetan Buddhism in the country, and receive and impart funds and facilities to ensure its survival. The monarch is the head of the religious and secular branches of the national government. Even though the monarch is a hereditary attribute, he cannot assume his office beyond 65 years of age. A special provision is kept under the constitution, wherein the king can be removed if more than two-thirds of the parliamentarians vote against him. Five candidates are chosen to head the government based on popular vote for a term of five years. The Prime Minister is head of the government and each year the position is given to one of these five candidates depending on who gets the maximum votes.

Legislative

The two houses of the parliament are known as National Council or the Upper House and National Assembly or the Lower House. All elections and the activities of the political parties, during or prior to the event, are overseen by the Election Commission. The main duty of the Parliament is to pass bills and form or amend laws. After being passed by both lower houses, the bills are sent to the upper house within 30 days. Finally, they make their way to the king for being made into laws or being modified and reintroduced in the houses. The kingdom is divided into 20 states known as Dzonkhag and the activities of their governments are also overseen by the central law making body. Internal and territorial borders can also be altered by the organisation after getting the consent of at least three-fourths of the members.

Judiciary and Legal Systems

Knowing about the judiciary and legal system may come in handy if Bhutan tours are being planned by travellers. The legal system is largely based on the rules prescribed by the unifier of the kingdom, Shabdrung Ngawang Wangchuk in the 17th century and those of India. Cases are fought in the Supreme Courts, High Court and 20 Dzongkhag Courts. Accused or convicts are presented before a panel of judges, who chair the trial. The prosecutor asks them to confess their crimes and they do so, their punishment may be lenient. On the contrary if they do not accept their fault and their crime is heinous, the punishment can be severe.