PUNAKHA TSHECHU AND DRUBCHEN
In 17th century, when Tibetan forces invaded Bhutan several times seeking very precious relic, Ranjung Kharsapani, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal led the Bhutanese to victory.
To commemorate the triumph, he introduced Punakha drubchen. Since then Punakha drubchen (also known as Puna drubchen) became the annual festival of Punakha.
The Punakha drubchen is a unique festival because it hosts a dramatic recreation of the scene from the 17th century battle with Tibetan army. The ‘pazaps’ or local fighters, dressed in traditional battle gear, reenact the ancient battle scene. This reenactment harkens back to the time when, in absence of a standing army, men from the eight Tshogchens or great village blocks of Thimphu came forward and managed to expel the invading forces. Their victory ushered in a period of new-found internal peace and stability.
In 2005 another festival, known as Punakha tsechu was introduced by the 70th Je Khenpo Trulku Jigme Choedra and the then Home Minister. The Tsechu was introduced in response to the requests made by the district administration and local people.
These two festivals not only play an important role in preserving Bhutan’s rich culture and traditions but also provide devout Buddhists with an opportunity for prayer and pilgrimage. They reflect the richness of the Bhutanese cultural heritage and are very special in the eyes and hearts of both Bhutanese and tourists who visit Bhutan.