Paro Tshechu is one of the biggest festivals in the Bhutanese calendar and was started by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, and Penlop Rigzin Nyingpo during the consecration of Paro Dzong in 1644. The festival is observed in three parts – the pre-festival rituals on the first day, ceremonies on the second day inside the Paro Dzong, and the main festival at the festival ground for three days. Bhutanese from all walks of life in their finery come to attend the five-day festival.
A special event in all Tsechus is the unfurling of the Thongdrol, meaning “Liberation at Sight.” This comes from the belief that seeing an aesthetically proportioned Buddhist image plants a seed of enlightenment in the viewer’s heart. That seed matures into the liberation of one’s mind and frees us from endless rebirths of suffering. Thongdrol also means large silk appliqué thangkas (painting) that are displayed for a few hours during important religious ceremonies in Bhutan. The sacred Thongdrol of Guru Rinpoche is displayed early in the morning on the last day of the Tshechu. On such occasion, the festival venue fills with people at dawn in freezing cold.