Held annually forthree days in February or March, depending on which is the first month of the lunaryear, Punakha Festival is zest, charm and delight wrapped together! I could not stop smiling at thethought of being a part of such a colourful and lively festival of Bhutan which also carried a hugeweight of sentiments and respect for the ancestors and culture.
I draped the beautifully azure coloured Kira,
which is the traditional Bhutanese dress for women, around myself and tucked it
in properly securing it with a lot of pins! As I was moving from my lodge to
Punakha Dzong, I saw a stream of locals wearing all the colours under the sun
on their alluring Kiras and Ghos (traditional dress for men). The
lively chattering, the energetic spirit and the gorgeous faces of the locals
gave me an adrenaline rush!
My guide helped me through the crowd and made me
sit on a comfortable spot which gave a nice view of all that was happening! The
festival or should I say the tsechu has all the capacity to overwhelm a person
with joy and exuberance. Starting with the religious dance performances called
cham, my eyes were dazzled with the gusto of everyone there! The monk clad wear
extravagantly designed masks, bright-yellow fabrics with intricate patterns and
rich brocade work during their performances.
Buddhist inscriptions are recited, religious
dances are performed and interestingly the war against Tibet in the 17th
century is re-enacted with lavish costumes and decorations.
My effort of carrying the Kira with grace was
acknowledged and noted by the lovely locals! The togetherness presented by the
masses, the insightful facts on the heritage of Bhutan given to me by the
guide, the devotional spirit of the pilgrims and the enthusiasm of the
performers, everything together makes Punakha Tsechu one of the most memorable
days of my life! Kira obviously was the star of the show!!