Instead Of Professional Dancers, Students Perform Mask Dances At The Phuentsholing Festival 2018


Unlike the past years, where the Phuentsholing thromde hired masked dancers from Chukha dzongkhag, it was the students who performed the mask dances at the Phuentsholing tshechu this year.

Mask Dance in front of the Phuentsholing Monastery. (Source: Wordpress/travelettling)


By Rajesh Rai Kuensel

Unlike the past years, where the Phuentsholing thromde hired masked dancers from Chukha dzongkhag, it was the students from six schools and monks from Pelden Tashichholing Tsuglakhang who performed the mask dances during the Phuentsholing tshechu (festival) this year. The one-day festival was held on October 24.

At the changing room of the Tsuglakhang, Kunzang Norbu Rai, 14, a class VIII student from one of the schools in Phuentsholing, was nervous as he put on the mask dance dress.

His friends from his school and other teenagers from other schools were all engrossed in getting ready for the mask dance.

The young students gave Phuentsholing tshechu an outstanding show. The spectators also felt hopeful for the future of cultural masked dancing through these young mask dancers.


Source: Wordpress/travelettling


More than 15 students, both girls and boys from six different schools participated in the tshechu. The masked dancers have practised for months for the occasion, some even for seven months and they were trained by professional practitioners.

What some of the student dancers said

A 15-year-old class IX student, Ngawang Namgay, said that he has performed masked dances in Nganglam before. As a chaampoen, he led his dancing troop for Ngaging Chaam.

“I would like to continue mask dancing,” Ngawang Namgay said.

Kunzang Norbu Rai said that it was his first time doing a mask dance.

“I am prepared,” he said. “I will be performing the Drametse Ngachaam.”


Kunzang Norbu Rai dresses up for the masked dance

Source: Kuensel


He said that he practised in the morning and evening at schools and also at home to perfect his moves.

Another class IX student, Kinley Wangdi, 14 revealed that he was scared at the beginning and feared if he would do something wrong.

“But I did not make any mistake,” he said. “I am proud to perform here today.”

During the last four Phuentsholing tshechus, the thromde had hired all the equipment and professional dancers from Chukha.

Tshechu (festival) helps to promote the culture and tradition of Phuentsholing

Thromde’s executive secretary, Wangchuk Thaye said that the tshechu would go on a long way to promote the culture and tradition of Phuentsholing, which shares a porous border with Jaigaon.

“Students from each school would perform one mask dance like they performed this time every year from now,” he said.

Thrompon Uttar Kumar Rai said that the spectators had increased each year in the Phuentsholing tshechu.

“Many had not come before,” he said, adding that people should come, as it is a tshechu for the people.

Uttar Kumar Rai said that Phuentsholing has a population that includes people from all the dzongkhags in the country.


Source: Wordpress/travelettling


“As people miss attending tsechus in their hometowns, a tshechu in Phuentsholing gives them an opportunity to witness a meaningful cultural and festive engagement.”

He said with the increasing number of spectators, the expenses would increase by the day. “The Thromde is trying all possible means to sustain the festival.”

Meanwhile, Sangay Wangdi, 31, from Zhemgang, who had come to witness the tshechu for the first time in his 10 years of stay in Phuentsholing, said that he had not expected the tshechu to be a grand one.

“But it is really good,” he said, adding that he would not it miss next year.


This article first appeared in Kuensel and has been edited for the Bhutan Times.

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