One of the most colourful festivals in the Bhutanese calendar is the Tsechu (masked dance festival) performed in all the districts and in many monasteries and temples spread throughout Bhutan. The occasion is known as Tsechu – literally “10th day” – as it is normally performed on the 10th day of a month and is an occasion for the village people to come together and partake in the festive occasion. The Tsechu is to commemorate the events in the life of Guru Rinpoche who is revered as the second Buddha in Bhutan. Classical dances in Bhutan are reflected in the religious mask pageants and ritual dances. With the introduction of Buddhism in the 8th century AD by Guru Rinpoche from Tibet, ritual and mask dances gained roots in the Bhutanese system as part of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition. There are also many other festivals distinct to different villages which are mostly animistic in nature.
For the Bhutanese, attendance at religious festivals offers an opportunity to become immersed in the meaning of their religion and to gain much merit. The festivals are also occasions for seeing people, and for being seen, for social exchanges, and for flaunting success. People bring out their finest clothes, their most beautiful jewellery, and enjoy picnics with abundant alcohol and feasting.