Public holidays in Bhutan

Public holidays in Bhutan consist of both national holidays and local festivals or tshechus. While national holidays are observed throughout Bhutan, tsechus are only observed in their areas.[1] Bhutan uses its own calendar,[2] a variant of the lunisolar Tibetan calendar. Because it is a lunisolar calendar, dates of some national holidays and most tshechus change from year to year. For example, the new year, Losar, generally falls between February and March.

National holidays

Bhutan has sixteen public holidays.[1] Bhutanese holidays are rooted in the Drukpa Lineage of Kagyu Buddhism, the House of Wangchuck and the Tibetan calendar. Even secular holidays, however, have a measure of religious overtone, as religious choreography and blessings mark these auspicious days.[3]

Winter solstice

Nyinlong or Nyilong (Dzongkha: ཉིན་ལོང་, Wylie: nyin long "return of the sun"),[4] the winter solstice celebration, is a public holiday falling on 2 January every year.[1][5] Nyinlog is considered the most auspicious day of the year.[4] It is celebrated like new year among some western Bhutan, though more so in the central and eastern regions, where the shortest day of the year is marked with archery and feasting.[5] Farmers, on the other hand, may feel some chagrin as the solstice signals longer and longer work days ahead.[6]

Traditional Day of Offering

The Traditional Day of Offering[1] (Dzongkha: buelwa phuewi nyim) is a holiday usually falling in January or February, on the 1st day of the 12th month of the calendar.[7] The main purpose behind this holiday is to give thanks to Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the founder of Bhutan.[8] It also focuses on charity, particularly feeding others, and recreation.[6] The day is celebrated with feasting and traditional sports, including archery, digor, and khuru (darts).[7] This holiday may have originally begun as a Bhutanese new year celebration.[9]


Losar (Dzongkha ལོ་གསར་, Wylie: lo gsar), the New Year, is celebrated between February and March, officially on the 1st month, 1st day of the calendar.[1] Festivities last 15 days, ahead of which people spend much time preparing food and alcohol and cleaning their homes of old and unused objects.[10][11] In Bhutan, different communities celebrate Losar at slightly different times and refer to the holiday by particular local names.[9] The common Losar greeting is "tashi delek."

Birthday of King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck

February 21–23 are holidays commemorating the birth anniversary of Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck the 5th and current Druk Gyalpo.[1]

Zhabdrung Kuchoe

Shabdrung Kurchoe[1] marks the passing of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1651 at Punakha Dzong. It generally falls in April or May (4th month, 10th day of the calendar). The holiday is a national day of mourning.[12]

Birthday of King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck

May 2 is the birth anniversary of Jigme Dorji Wangchuck the 3rd Druk Gyalpo, who began Bhutan's first steps toward modernization (b. 1928, Thruepang Palace, Trongsa).[1][12]

The day is also celebrated as Teacher’s day throughout the country. The day sees students coordinating various programs at schools and institution showing gratitude to their teachers. Students gift cards to Teachers, while some students substitute their teachers in class to give them a time-out. The day also constitute cultural programs showcasing various dance and song items focusing on teachers and their contributions. The day usually ends with a common meal for the entire school or institution.

Coronation of King Jigme Singye Wangchuck

June 2 is the coronation day of the Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the 4th Druk Gyalpo (1974).[1] It also doubles as Social Forestry Day, where children plant trees.[12]

Parinirvana of Buddha

June 15 is Parinirvana Day,[1] a public holiday commemorating the nirvana of Gautama Buddha.

Birthday of Guru Rinpoche

July 10 marks the birth anniversary of Guru Rinpoche (also known as Padmasambhava),[1] the saint credited with introducing Buddhism to Bhutan in the 8th century AD.

First Sermon of Buddha

August 3 marks the first sermon of Gautama Buddha at Sarnath.[1]

Blessed Rainy Day

Blessed Rainy Day[1] (Dzongkha: thruebab) generally falls in September, and is held on an auspicious day during monsoon season. The traditional holiday has not always been a public holiday, but was rather recently reinstated to official status.[13] The event is marked by feasting, drinking alcohol, playing traditional sports, and purification through washing. In some parts of Pemagatshel, the traditional celebrations are more intense than those of even Losar.[14]


Dashain, the main Nepalese (and Hindu festival, falls on October 6.[1][15] During this holiday, houses are cleaned and replastered, gifts are exchanged, and families gather.[6] Dashain has been a public holiday in Bhutan.[16]

Coronation of King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck

November 1 marks the coronation day of Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the 5th and current Druk Gyalpo (2008).[6]

Birthday of King Jigme Singye Wangchuck

November 11 marks the birth anniversary of Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the 4th Druk Gyalpo (b. 1955, Dechencholing Palace, Thimphu).[6] The holiday is also called Constitution Day; under this king and at his behest, the Constitution of Bhutan was enacted.

Lhabab Duchen

Lhabab Duchen is a public holiday[1] generally falling in November (on the 9th month, 22nd day of the Tibetan calendar). Lhabab Duchen marks Gautama Buddha's return to earth after attaining Nirvana. In the eastern regions of Bhutan, the holiday is a popular occasion for performing Lhasoel, which are religious offerings in the form of ara (traditional wine), blessings, and supplications.[17]

National Day

The National Day (Gyalyong Duechen) of Bhutan is December 17. The date marks the coronation of Ugyen Wangchuck as the first Druk Gyalpo of modern Bhutan.[18] Celebrations are held at Changlimithang Stadium, and include a public address by the Druk Gyalpo and a procession including a statue of Ugyen Wangchuck to honor the first Druk Gyalpo and the independent Bhutanese nation.[19][20][21]


Second day opening session, Paro tsechu
Dance of the Lord of Death, Paro
Masked cham dancers, Wangdue Phodrang tsechu

Numerous tsechus, or festivals, take place for up to five days each at different locales across Bhutan. These usually feature large-scale pageantry and costumes, allegorical dances, archery, and music.[3] These festivals are centuries-old traditions functioning not only as links to the past but also attract large numbers of tourists.[22]

Below is a list of major tsechus in Bhutan, along with their 2011 dates. Dates in other years will vary.

Bhutan tsechu dates (2019)[23]
Date Tsechu Location
January 2–04 Trongsa Tsechu Trongsa
January 2–04 Lhuntse Tsechu Lhuntse
January 2–04 Pemagatshel Tsechu Pemagatshel
January 9 Shingkhar Metochodpa Bumthang
January 9–13 Nabji Lhakhang Drup Trongsa
February 10–15 Punakha Dromache & Tshechu Punakha
February 17–21 Tangsibi Mani Bumthang
February 18 Chorten Kora Trashiyangtse
February 18 Tharpaling Thongdrol Bumthang
February 19–21 Buli Mani Chumey Bumthang
(1st month, 7th day)
Trashiyangtse Tsechu Trashiyangtse
March 4 Chorten Kora (2nd) Trashiyangtse
March 13–15 Gomkora Trashigang
March 13–15 Talo Tsechu Talo, Punakha
March 13–16 Zhemgang Tsechu Zhemgang
March 15–19 Paro Tshechu Paro
March 17–19 Chhukha Tshechu Chukha
April 1–03 Gaden Chodpa Ura, Bumthang
May 12–14 Domkhar Festival Chhume, Bumthang
May 14–18 Ura Yakchoe Ura, Bumthang
June 19–21 Padsel–Ling Kuchod Bumthang
June Laya Bumkhosa Festival (Bongkor) Laya
July 8–10 Nimalung Tshechu Bumthang
July 9–10
does not move
Alpine Ha, Haa
July 10 Kurjey Tshechu Bumthang
July 29 Gangte Kurim Gangte, Wangdue Phodrang
October 1–05 Thimphu Drupchen Thimphu
October 4–06 Wangdue Tsechu Wangdue Phodrang
October 4–06 Gangte Drubchen & Tsechu Gangte, Wangdue Phodrang
October 6–08 Tamshingphala Choepa Bumthang
October 6–08 Gasa Tsechu District Gasa
October 6–08 Thimphu Tshechu Thimphu
October 10–12 Thangbi Mani Bumthang
November 1–05 Shingkhar Rabney Ura, Bumthang
November 3–06 Jakar Tsechu Jakar, Bumthang
November 10–14 Jambay Lakhang Drup Bumthang
November 11–13 Prakhar Duchoed Bumthang
November 12
does not move
Black Necked Crane Festival Gangte, Wangdue Phodrang
November 22–25 Sumdrang Kangsol Ura, Bumthang
December 2–05 Trashigang Tsechu Trashigang
December 2–05 Mongar Tsechu Mongar
December 3–04 Tang Namkha Rabney Tang Bumthang
December 10 Singye Cham, Jambay Lhakhang Bumthang
December 10–12 Nalakhar Tsechu Bumthang
December 10–13 Chojam Rabney Tang Bumthang

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Public Holidays for the year 2011". Royal Civil Service Commission, Government of Bhutan. 2011-04-26. Archived from the original on 2012-03-28. Retrieved 2011-07-26.
  2. ^ Henning, E. (2010-02-05). "Bhutanese Calendar". Kalacakra online. Retrieved 2011-07-28.
  3. ^ a b Bhutan Foreign Policy and Government Guide. World Foreign Policy and Government Library. Vol. 20. International Business Publications. 2000. pp. 46–47. ISBN 0-7397-3719-8. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
  4. ^ a b Wangchuk, Rinzin (2007-12-27). "Observing Ngenpa Guzom". Kuensel online. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
  5. ^ a b "Winter Solstice Holiday Resource". Retrieved 2011-07-27.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Holidays of Bhutan Fall/Winter". Far Flung Places & Bhutan Tourism Corporation. 2011-07-03. Retrieved 2011-07-26.
  7. ^ a b "Traditional Day of Offering". Kuensel online. 2006-01-29. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
  8. ^ "Traditional Day of Offering". Bhutan Journals online. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
  9. ^ a b Namgyel, Tenzin (2010-01-17). "The Real Losar?". Kuensel online. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
  10. ^ Tshering, Dechen (2011-01-06). "The Cooking Up". Kuensel online. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
  11. ^ Dahal, Rabi C (2010-02-12). "Our Cousins in Losar Celebrations". Bhutan Observer online. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
  12. ^ a b c "Holidays of Bhutan Spring/Summer". Far Flung Places & Bhutan Tourism Corporation. 2011-07-03. Retrieved 2011-07-26.
  13. ^ Palden, Karma (2010-10-24). "Thrubab Brings Fields Alive". Bhutan Observer online. Archived from the original on 2012-04-03. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
  14. ^ Namgyal, Gembo (2010-09-25). "Bathing in Celestial Precipitation". Bhutan Observer online. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
  15. ^ Bhandari, Achyut (2010-10-23). "The Significance of Dashain Festival". Bhutan Observer online. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
  16. ^ "Bhutan Festivals". RAOnline. 2011-06-17. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
  17. ^ Namgyal, Gyembo (2010-01-19). "It is Lhasoel Time in the East". Bhutan Observer online. Archived from the original on 2011-01-20. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
  18. ^ "The Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan (Art. 1)" (PDF). Government of Bhutan. 2008-07-18. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-06. Retrieved 2010-10-08.
  19. ^ "National Day Celebrations". Bhutan Broadcasting Service. 2010-12-17. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
  20. ^ Tenzin, Ugyen (2009-12-19). "December 17, the Essence". Bhutan Observer online. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
  21. ^ "National Day of Bhutan". Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation online. 2010-12-16. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
  22. ^ Lorie, Jonathan; Sohanpaul, Amy, eds. (2006). The Traveler's Handbook: The Insider's Guide to World Travel. Traveler's Handbook Series (9 ed.). Globe Pequot. p. 206. ISBN 0-7627-4090-6. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
  23. ^ "Festival Dates". Vivaan Adventure Pvt Ltd. Retrieved 2019-12-08.
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