Druk Wangyel Tshechu

The Druk Wangyel Tshechu is a relatively recent addition to Bhutan's festival calendar, first celebrated in 2011. It takes place at the Druk Wangyel Lhakhang temple, located on the Dochula Pass, which is about 45 minutes drive from the capital city of Thimphu.

The festival is unique because it was established to honor the Bhutanese military and their contributions to the nation. It typically occurs around December 13th to commemorate the victory of Bhutanese armed forces over Indian insurgents in 2003. The Dochula Pass itself holds historical significance as it was a pivotal battleground during that conflict.

During the Druk Wangyel Tshechu, there are various cultural performances, including traditional Bhutanese dances and songs. However, what sets this festival apart is the participation of the Royal Bhutan Army. The soldiers perform a series of choreographed military drills, showcasing their discipline, precision, and martial prowess. This includes displays of archery, sword fighting, and other traditional Bhutanese martial arts.

Another distinctive feature of the Druk Wangyel Tshechu is the presence of large colorful silk banners known as "thongdrels." These thongdrels are unfurled for public viewing during the festival, and they depict important religious symbols and figures. It is believed that witnessing the unveiling of these sacred thongdrels brings blessings and merit to onlookers.

The Druk Wangyel Tshechu is not only a celebration of Bhutanese military achievements but also an opportunity for the public to express gratitude and respect for the armed forces. It is a patriotic event that strengthens the bond between the military, the monarchy, and the citizens of Bhutan. Additionally, the festival's location on the picturesque Dochula Pass offers stunning panoramic views of the Himalayan mountains, adding to the overall experience for attendees.

The Druk Wangyel Festival is a unique festival in Bhutan. Unlike other festivals at dzongs which were designed by the Zhabdrung, the founder of Bhutan, and performed by monks, the Druk Wangyel festival was curated by Dasho Karma Ura and performed by soldiers. It’s a one-day event on every 13th December, to commemorate the flushing out of militia in southern Bhutan and attended by many members of the royal family and political elites.



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