One of the highlights of a trip to Bhutan should be witnessing the colourful nature of a Festival where masked dancers commemorate the occasion with spiritual dances and appearances throughout the day. We managed to have our trip coincide with the Thimphu Festival in September and it was an eye-opener for me. Suddenly what I had been seeing on documentary channels on TV came alive before my eyes. Beneath the clear blue skies where cotton-white clouds stayed suspended over the Festival courtyard, people were out in their best national dresses - women and children, men and monks turned out in large numbers as if to fill up the white spaces of a vast canvas. The result was fantastic, a feast for the eyes!
There was much happiness and deep respect in the behaviour of the people of Bhutan for festivals, I observed. There was no sloppy dressing and though there was a law requiring such dress codes, people seemed to enjoy being decked out to the nines. I wish I could have dressed up too in the same way although the day was rather hot and that left me wondering how people could look so cool beneath those layers of exquisite clothing.
We only spent about 2 hours at the Festival and really it was not enough to gain any in-depth understanding of the performances that took place at intervals as people drifted in and out of the festival grounds. Those who had chosen to spend the entire day came well prepared with food and drinks. Time was precious and while I did get some close-enough shots of the colourful dancers I decided to turn much of my attention to the people who came for the festival and that helped me capture the best of the Bhutanese people in terms of their dressing, behaviour and loveliness as people who have a wonderful tradition to hold on to while the rest of the world went shopping in the malls.
Photos below are only excerpts of a bigger album here.