The Festivals in Bhutan are a joyous affair for families. Tshechus dedicated to Guru Rinpoche are celebrated for several days; this is the time when everyone attends them together, from toddlers to old men and women.
The highlight is the unveiling of the Thongdroel before the break of dawn, this massive scroll of the Guru is unfurled only once a year and is believed to be a blessing just to have seen it. Then there are the classical religious dances that tell the story of judgment day after-life. Each dance has its own spiritual importance and can be performed by monks or lay village elders dressed in bright costumes.
The masked and sword dances and other rituals are performed in the dzongs courtyard and temples. Most of the dances date back from before the Middle Ages and are only performed once or twice each year. In a few dzongs, two large festivals take place each year; a Dromchoe which is dedicated to Yeshe Gompo or Palden Lhamo, the two main protective deities of the Drukpas.
The most popular for tourists are the tshechus held in Thimphu, Paro and Bumthang. They mark the busiest time of year for the tourism industry. Airplane tickets and hotel rooms are frequently difficult to come by.
Tourists are allowed into the dzongs to watch the festivals, but are not allowed into the inner sanctuaries. Photography should always be discreet. It is generally allowed for photographs to be taken at tshechus but not at dromches.