Paro Tshechu, Bhutan

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Mask dance festivals or locally known as Tsechu are a religious event celebrated for several days annually across the country. The events are held within or around the great medieval Dzongs (Fortress). The festival honors the 7th century Buddhist saint Guru Rinpoche who is believed to have introduced Buddhism in Bhutan. 

During the festival, the monks perform a series of religion inspired dances and chant prayers. It is said that it takes years for the monks to master these dances or Chaams. The monks wear extravagant silk robes and cover their faces with exquisitely hand crafted masks depicting various Buddhist gods and deities while performing Chaams. People from within the region gather at the courtyard dressed in their finest clothes to celebrate the event.

It is also believed that the sacred dances invoke deities to bless the congregation. Intrigued by the visual aesthetics and cultural bonanza, the festival draws thousands of tourists every year from across the globe.

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Written by Richard Ascough

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