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. Bhutan uses its own calendar, 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.
Bhutan has sixteen public holidays. 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.
Nyinlong or Nyilong (Dzongkha: ཉིན་ལོང་, Wylie: nyin long "return of the sun"), the winter solstice celebration, is a public holiday falling on 2 January every year. Nyinlog is considered the most auspicious day of the year. 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. Farmers, on the other hand, may feel some chagrin as the solstice signals longer and longer work days ahead.
Traditional Day of Offering
The Traditional Day of Offering (Dzongkha: buelwa phuewi nyim) is a holiday usually falling in January or February, on the 1st day of the 12th month of the calendar. The main purpose behind this holiday is to give thanks to Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the founder of Bhutan. It also focuses on charity, particularly feeding others, and recreation. The day is celebrated with feasting and traditional sports, including archery, digor, and khuru (darts). This holiday may have originally begun as a Bhutanese new year celebration.
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. Festivities last 15 days, ahead of which people spend much time preparing food and alcohol and cleaning their homes of old and unused objects. In Bhutan, different communities celebrate Losar at slightly different times and refer to the holiday by particular local names. The common Losar greeting is "tashi delek."
Birthday of King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck
Shabdrung Kurchoe 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.
Birthday of King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck
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
Parinirvana of Buddha
Birthday of Guru Rinpoche
July 10 marks the birth anniversary of Guru Rinpoche (also known as Padmasambhava), 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.
Blessed Rainy Day
Blessed Rainy Day (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. 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.
Dashain, the main Nepalese (and Hindu festival, falls on October 6. During this holiday, houses are cleaned and replastered, gifts are exchanged, and families gather. Dashain has been a public holiday in Bhutan.
Coronation of King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck
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). The holiday is also called Constitution Day; under this king and at his behest, the Constitution of Bhutan was enacted.
Lhabab Duchen is a public holiday 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.
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. 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.
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. These festivals are centuries-old traditions functioning not only as links to the past but also attract large numbers of tourists.
Below is a list of major tsechus in Bhutan, along with their 2011 dates. Dates in other years will vary.
|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)
|March 4||Chorten Kora (2nd)||Trashiyangtse|
|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|
does not move
|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|
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|
- "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.
- Henning, E. (2010-02-05). "Bhutanese Calendar". Kalacakra online. Retrieved 2011-07-28.
- 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.
- Wangchuk, Rinzin (2007-12-27). "Observing Ngenpa Guzom". Kuensel online. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
- "Winter Solstice Holiday Resource". MarktheDay.com. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
- "Holidays of Bhutan Fall/Winter". Far Flung Places & Bhutan Tourism Corporation. 2011-07-03. Retrieved 2011-07-26.
- "Traditional Day of Offering". Kuensel online. 2006-01-29. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
- "Traditional Day of Offering". Bhutan Journals online. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
- Namgyel, Tenzin (2010-01-17). "The Real Losar?". Kuensel online. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
- Tshering, Dechen (2011-01-06). "The Cooking Up". Kuensel online. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
- Dahal, Rabi C (2010-02-12). "Our Cousins in Losar Celebrations". Bhutan Observer online. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
- "Holidays of Bhutan Spring/Summer". Far Flung Places & Bhutan Tourism Corporation. 2011-07-03. Retrieved 2011-07-26.
- Palden, Karma (2010-10-24). "Thrubab Brings Fields Alive". Bhutan Observer online. Archived from the original on 2012-04-03. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
- Namgyal, Gembo (2010-09-25). "Bathing in Celestial Precipitation". Bhutan Observer online. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
- Bhandari, Achyut (2010-10-23). "The Significance of Dashain Festival". Bhutan Observer online. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
- "Bhutan Festivals". RAOnline. 2011-06-17. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
- 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.
- "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.
- "National Day Celebrations". Bhutan Broadcasting Service. 2010-12-17. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
- Tenzin, Ugyen (2009-12-19). "December 17, the Essence". Bhutan Observer online. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
- "National Day of Bhutan". Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation online. 2010-12-16. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
- 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.
- "Festival Dates". Vivaan Adventure Pvt Ltd. Retrieved 2019-12-08.