Black-Necked Crane Festival in Bhutan

Bhutan, a beautiful country in South Asia nestled between India and Tibet is the only country in the world with Gross National Happiness (GNH). And that’s gross. Bhutan, the only Vajrayana Buddhist nation in the world is also known as “The Last Kingdom of Bhutan” and “The Last Shangrila.” Popular and revered for its natural beauty and culture, Bhutan preserves traditions back to the 7th century. The pristine environment, culture, and tradition, ideology of Gross National Happiness, and nature are the main drawcards of Bhutan. The dramatic landscape ranging from lush subtropical plains to the sub-alpine Himalayan houses bountiful wildlife, and some mountains ranging from 160 meters (520 ft) to more than 7,000 meters (23,000 ft) above sea level.

Gangkhar Puensum (7,570 meters) is the highest peak. Traveler prefers to say Bhutan as the country of Mountains, Monasteries, and Mystery. Mystery as there are no traffic lights, mountains climbing is forbidden, and tobacco products are illegal. Does not it sound Mysterious?!  (Yes) We heard from you. Bhutanese building has Phallus paintings and carvings everywhere. That said, Bhutan is a predominately Buddhist kingdom with unique culture and spectacular festivals like Paro Tschechu, Mountain Echoes festival, Jambay Lhakhang Drup, Haa Summer Festival, The Punakha Tschechu, Drubchen,  Thimphu Tschechu and many more. These exuberant festivals are celebrated exceedingly in Bhutan and are colorful affairs with lots of masked dancing and bright costumes where the dances take on aspects of wrathful and compassionate deities, heroes, demons, and animals. One of the major festivals in Bhutan is the “Black-Necked Crane Festival.”

Black- Necked Crane Festival is celebrated at the courtyard of Gangtey Goenpa in Phobjikha valley (Gangtey Goenpa is the abode to largest Black-necked Cranes in winter in Bhutan) to remark the pivotal importance of conserving the endangered Black-Necked Cranes.  Annual Black-necked Crane Festival is celebrated on November 11 each year, the first festival in November 1998, marking and honoring the arrival of heavenly birds.

Black Necked Crane
Black-Necked Crane

Black-Necked Cranes (locally known as Thrung Thrung) are the majestic bird of Tibetan Plateau revered in Buddhist traditions and culturally protected by this festival. People gather to celebrate this festival with the belief that these birds are the reincarnation of deities, the protector of the valley and perform folk songs and masked dance. People gather at Gangtey Goenpa to witness and celebrate the cultural programs specially masked dance by local people, adorned with the Black-necked crane costumes. The Royal Society organizes the festival for Protection of Nature (RSPN) and the Phobjikha Environment Management Committee (PEMC). The festival does not just cherish the vibrant culture of rejoicing the arrival of the majestic bird, it also boosts environmental conservation and promotes awareness among local people, internal and international tourists about the Black-necked crane, and its significance through black-necked crane theme folk dance and songs.

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