Context: A Cham Lama performance on the auspicious occasion of Buddha Jayanti at Tupchiling Gompa was observed in Lahaul region of Himachal Pradesh.
About the Cham Lama Dance:
- A traditional Cham Lama dance is an event held by Tibetan monasteries during special Buddhist festivals.
- Monks in colourful costumes wear masks and they dance to the music played from traditional instruments (such as the ritual drum), also performed by monks. The longer it goes on, the more they seem to get in a trance.
- The dancers have to be both well-trained and strong as the ritual dance must be performed very precisely and the masks are very heavy.
- Cham was introduced in the eight Century by Padmasambhava (who introduced Tantric Buddhism to Tibet), to subjugate the local demons that were obstructing the building of the first monastery in Tibet, Samye.
- Many of the figures performing the dance are animal characters. The pictures are made at the annual Buddhist Festival at Trongsa Dzong, the largest dzong fortress in Bhutan, located in Trongsa (formerly Tongsa), in the centre of the country.
- This five-day festival known as the Trongsa Tsechu is held in the courtyard of the temple every year in December or January. The festival celebrates the arrival of Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) to Bhutan in the 8th century, a mark of triumph of Buddhism over evil.
By attending a Tsechu, visitors gain the Buddha’s blessing or and experience spiritual release through the tantric deities.