Festivals

Bhutan has numerous public holidays, most of which center around traditional seasonal, secular, and religious festivals. They include winter solstice (around January 1, depending on the lunar calendar), lunar new year (January or February), the Druk Gyalpo’s birthday and the anniversary of his coronation, the official start of monsoon season (September 22), National Day (December 17), and various Buddhist and Hindu celebrations. Even the secular holidays have religious overtones, including religious dances and prayers used to bless the day.

Masked dances and dance dramas are common traditional features at festivals. Energetic dancers wearing colorful wooden or composition face masks employ special costumes and music to depict a panoply of heroes, demons, death heads, animals, gods, and caricatures of common people. The dances enjoy royal patronage and preserve not only ancient folk and religious customs but also perpetuate the art of mask making.


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