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!