This festival usually takes place in March or April each year, depending upon the Bhutanese lunar calendar. It is considered one of the most colorful and wonderful of Bhutanï¿½s many festivals and is very popular with visitors.
Festival participants don ornamental dress and elaborate costumes that are worn just once a year. Other highlights of the Paro Festival include the Thongdrel on the last day.
Thongdrel is a huge religious scroll, usually with the image of Bhutanese protector deity, Guru Rimpoche, appliquï¿½d in bright silk. The scroll is lowered on the last day of the Festival in the early hours of the morning, and is rolled back up before direct sunlight touches it.
"THONGDREL MEANS LIBERATION UPON SIGHT, SEEING ONE IS ENOUGH TO BRING THE FAITHFUL INTO AN ENLIGHTENED STATE."
Between 1616 AD and 1651 AD, Zhabdrung had to wage around five major against the major wars against the invading forces of Desi Tsangpa Phuntsho Namgyel and his successors. The Bhutanese militia under the able guidance of Zhabdrung himself was able to defeat the invaders. During those wars, Lam Zhabdrung also sought the support of the guardian Deities, particularly Palden Lhamo and Pal Yeshey Goenbo.
Punakha Drubchen therefore celebrates two important events: a) Worship of the guardian deities and presentation of the deities to the public through mask dances performed by the monks. b) Enactment of ancient military scenes by Pazaps.
Totally different than other Festivals in the Kingdom, the Domchey depicts the events of the 17thn century -- specifically, how the Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel came to Bhutan from Tibet. When he came to Bhutan, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel brought valuable treasure from Tibet with him.
The Tibetan Army came to Punakha Dzong to retrieve the treasure and fought a battle with the Bhutanese defenders. In this festival, four different villages participate, each representing a different army that fought in this historic battle.