Wangdue Phodrang Tshechu returns to newly reconstructed Dzong after over a decade

After a long wait of over a decade, the people of Wangdue Phodrang were able to witness the annual Tshechu this year in the newly constructed Dzong. Rising to its former glory after being destroyed by a major fire accident in 2012, the courtyard of the Wangdue Phodrang Dzong once again hosted the district’s most sacred festival. The three-day annual Tshechu that began on Friday concluded yesterday.

Devotees began gathering in the courtyard as early as 4am, enduring heavy rainfall. Despite the challenges posed by the weather, the devotees remained excited for the Tshechu.

The Tshechu, being held for the first time in the newly constructed Dzong, attracted devotees from neighbouring districts as well.

The festival also drew quite a good number of tourists. Some suggested the need for additional space provisions inside the dzong during such events.

Most of the devotees gathered on the second day which had one of the most significant mask dances called the Dolungpai Raksha Chham. The chham is believed to be the most unique and important mask dance performed annually during the Wangdue Phodrang Tshechu.

Unlike other mask dances, Dolungpai Raksha Chham is performed by the chhampon or the lead dancer of Dolung Goempa in Bjenag Gewog.

“I was in doubt once whether I would ever witness the Wangdue Tshechu again in my lifetime after the Dzong was destroyed by fire. But I am thankful today and blessed to have the opportunity to witness the Tshechu inside the new Dzong; firstly, the Tshechu coincided with Blessed Rainy Day and secondly, the architectural design of the Dzong. I am grateful for the blessings I received in the new Dzong,” said Kado, a resident of Thedtsho.

“I worried that I might not live to see the reconstruction of this new Dzong completed. I was eager to witness the Wangdue Phodrang annual Tshechu return to this Dzong. Today, I feel extremely fortunate and happy to have this opportunity,” said Dorji, another resident of Thedtsho.

“Today, an important mask dance took place on the second day of the Wangdue Phodrang annual Tshechu. However, we faced difficulties due to heavy rainfall in the morning hours. The Dzong’s courtyard was fully packed and even DeSuups and police had a hard time controlling the crowd. Spectators struggled to find space to sit inside the courtyard,” said Sangay Penjor, Thedtsho Mangmi.

“The dzong has been restored to its former glory within eleven years. People gathered here as early as 4am, filled with excitement at the opportunity to attend the annual Tshechu after a decade,” said Phurba, a resident of Gase Tshowom Gewog.

Except for the last two years when the Tsechu was closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the devotees visited the open grounds to witness the annual Tshechu.

The works to reconstruct the Dzong began in January 2014 under the Royal Command of His Majesty the King. The newly constructed Dzong was completed last year.

The Dzong was built in the 17th century by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel.

Changa Dorji, Wangdue Phodrang

Edited by Sonam Pem

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