Pema Gatshel Festival

Pema Gatshel is one of the six districts in eastern Bhutan and one of the newly established Districts. Untill its establishment as an independent District, Pema Gatshel was administered from Mongar, Trashigang and Samdrup Jongkhar districts. It borders Trashigang to its north, Samdrup Jongkhar to its south and Mongar to its east. Its major inhabitants are the Tshanglas who are found living on agriculture and animal husbandry.

The district is known for numerous festivals and folk songs. The most notable folk song is the Ausa, a song that is sung during departures of family members, friends and relatives. Since the construction of the dzong in the early 1980’s, they also celebrate the annual festival over a three day period.

The Mask Dances known as Cham are performed during the three day festival. Cham are believed to bring blessings upon the spectators and teach them the teachings of the Buddhist dharma. Cham are also believed to provide protection from misfortune and exorcise evil influences. The festival is a religious ceremony and it is believed one gains merit by attending it. It is also a yearly social gathering where people from all walks of life travel great distances to be a part of it. The people rejoice together, dressed in their finest clothing.