Our day started with a quick breakfast in our dining room. The facilities here are fabulous!
Once breakfast was finished we met our guide and driver and were off to the Jakar Dzong. This large building is both a monastery and a fort, or government building. Today it is hosting for the second day the religious and cultural festival known as a tsechu. The festival will last for 3 days, and we will also be attending tomorrow morning as well. Many dances are performed: religious interpretations are done by monks; festive interpretations are done by regionally supported dance professionals; and regional women’s folk singing is also performed.
Here is a look at the colourful entrance of the fort, complete with a water prayer wheel!
Once inside, we were able to capture a prime spot on the rock ledge beside the dance space. Our alternative would have been to sit on mats with most of the audience!
The first performers we saw were the clowns. These performers are extremely familiar with the dances, assist the dancers when there are costume malfunctions, assist the police in lightly moving the audience into the proper areas, and generally entertaining the crowd between performances. I can tell you they were real characters!
The first performance we saw was a women’s group singing a old folk song. Notice the beautiful silk woven skirts they all are wearing. These skirts are hand woven, depending on the intricacy of the pattern could take up to a year to weave, and are extremely expensive! It is at these festivals that everyone comes our in the finest. More on that later!
The next performance was done by monks in costume. The masks they are wearing are the wrathful reincarnation of the second Buddha. The dance is about attracting evil spirits and capturing and destroying them so that they do not harm the people of this valley.
The next dance involved a professional dancer, depicting an animal form which represents one of the weaknesses that buddhists work to overcome.
This festival is a time of gathering of families to attend wearing their finest and bringing lots of food. The people watching was amazing!
i showed you a picture of the young monk drummer, but we saw a number of young monks visiting with families during the festival. Monks can enter the monastery after the age of 5!
After about 3 hours, we decided to go and have some lunch, and then stretch our legs for a while. One of my newly discovered side dishes is call chilli cheese!
After lunch we went to visit the local brewery (Red Panda) as well as the Swiss Cheese shop. While the operations were closed because of the festival, we managed to get in a great walk reversing our track from yesterday!
Tomorrow will be another morning at the festival, and then we move on to our home stay in Nhang Lhakhang. As we will be in home stays for the next few nights it may be a while before I send out our next report. (Although I never cease to be amazed with life here in Bhutan!). Until the next post!