Punakha is located in the western part of Bhutan and this place has critical importance in the history of Bhutan since the time of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, the Buddhist Saint who unified Bhutan, in 17th century.
During 17th century Bhutan was invaded several times by Tibetan forces seeking to seize a very precious relic, the Ranjung Kharsapani. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal led the Bhutanese to victory over the Tibetans and to commemorate the triumph he introduced the Punakha Drubchen. Since then Punakha Drubchen became the annual festival in 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 militia men dress in traditional battle gear and reenact the ancient battle scene on the last day of Punakha Drubchen.
Punakha Tshechu was introduced in 2005 in response to the requests made by Punakha District Administration and local people to host a Tshechu in order to better preserve Buddhist teachings and keep alive the noble deeds of Zhabdrung Rimpoche.
Both the festival consists of typical masked dances which are very colourful and interesting, the events and enactments are different on each day. Punakha Dromchoe is a five day long festival dedicated to the goddess Mahakala. The religious aspects are performed in the same manner as in early times.
Schedule of Punakha Drubchen : March 2-6, 2017
Schedule of Punakha Tshechu : March 7-9,2017