Thimphu Tshechu : Part~1

by Vipin C Vijayan November. 18, 2017 1180 views

It was during the planning of my journey to Bhutan that I came to know about different Tshechus (Annual Festivals) being celebrated at various parts of the country. Then I had decided to make my trip coincide with one such festivals. I was glad it happened as per my wish and I was able to attend the first day of the three day long festival.

Buddhism was brought to Bhutan by Guru Rinpoche, or Padmasambhava, in the 8th century. The Tsechu festival is the celebration of his birthday and is held every year on the tenth day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar.

The exact month of the celebration however differs from place to place and temple to temple. This year, the Thimphu Tsechu festival was celebrated from the 30th of September to 2nd October, 2017.

As a photographer, I have always been very reluctant in photographing an event. Especially when it's something that's been performed before a crowd. If at all I end up taking some pictures, it would be either due to immense pressure from someone or the performer would be someone important to me.

The various Mask Dances that was performed during the Thimphu Tscehu was actually the first one such event where I got rid of such inhibitions and reluctancy of my own conscience.

Apart from that aspect, this event was also the most challenging photography that I've done so far. The reasons are various; the performance was heavily movement oriented... The performers would be moving around in a kind of pattern; of which the understanding takes some time. Therefore to bring just them and the prominent action in focus is not that easy.

The Tashichho Dzong (Fortress), Thimpu’s administrative and religious center, where the event takes place was under the shades of the rain clouds... And it was even drizzling continuously during the first few hours of the festival, which made the photographing of the dances in a badly lit condition. It was sad, especially when the initial performers were wearing attires which were such bright in their colors.

I was sitting with a small umbrella kept leaning over one of my shoulders and the camera in my hands... It was mounted with a telephoto lens, which was not fitting inside the umbrella space and therefore getting wet. I had to wipe away the water droplets at a regular intervals of time therefore...

Practically, everything around was kind of against my photographing of the event. Therefore against all odds, at the end of the day when you have some decent photographs in your hand, it feels accomplished and happy. And that's the feeling Thimphu Tshechu presented me with towards the end of day one of the festival.

Photographed inside Tashichho Dzong, Thimphu, Royal Kingdom Of Bhutan

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