This Tshechu (festival) is celebrated every year on 10th – 12th day of third month of Bhutanese calendar at Domkhar village temple in Chumey valley of Bumthang. It includes chams (masked dances) and other dances performed by people of Domkhar village. The chams include mainly the Peling Chams (composition of Terton Pema Lingpa). This three days’ festival also coincides with the death anniversary of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. On last day of the festival, a small Thongdroel representing the future Buddha Maitreya (jampa) is unfurled for the public to receive blessing which is also the highlights of the festival.
Dances scheduled during Domkhar Tshechu are as under:
Shinji Yab Yum Cham (Dance of the Lord of Death and his consort)
This powerful dance is often performed as a consecratory measure to remove any evil spirits in the vicinity. The wisdom Bodhisattva Manjushiri, appears with bull headed and human body to rule and protect the three worlds. The wrathful buffalo face to guards the four continents and blesses them before the arrival on the earth of gods of wisdom.
If this dance is viewed with complete faith and devotion, then viewer receives the best and most powerful blessing.
Dance of Ging with stick
The gings are the visual representation of the Paradise of Guru Rinpoche as seen by the Terton (Treasure discoverer) Pema lingpa (1450- 1521). Thus, although all the demons Nyelima who are creating obstacles to the religion are fleeing anywhere in the three worlds, the ging with sticks can find them, thanks to their foreknowledge. They catch them with hook of compassion, beat them with the sticks of wisdom tie them with the noose of compassion.
Dance of Ging with sword (Driging)
The dancers with the swords and with the drums, wear terrifying masks.
The origin of happiness of all beings in the three worlds is the religion of Buddha. To propagate this religion in the world, first one must listen to the teachings, then practice thinking and meditating in places of meditation. Any kinds of demons who are creating obstacle to the doctrine, human or non-human, who have no fast power and bad thoughts are called Jungpo Nyelima. There are various means by way of magical formulae to subdue this malevolent spirit. On this subject, the great treasure discoverer Pema Lingpa when he went to the Paradise, saw the dance of three kinds of gings who emanation of Guru Rinpoche are. This was the blessing, which explained how to subdue the demons Nyelima by magic.
Black Hat Dance
This dance has a double symbolism. It celebrates the assassination of anti-Buddhist Tibetan King Langdarma in 842 A.D. by a monk wearing a black robe. At another level, the dancers appear as Yogis who have power to kill and recreate life; they subdue the demons with angry means. They also perform rituals for the earth firstly, build the mandala and cut the demons into pieces. The dance is also performed to purify the ground before starting the construction of dzong and monasteries.
Lord of the cremation ground dance (Durdag Cham)
The dancers wear white skeleton masks, white skirts with long sleeves, long trousers and deep red fingernails which symbolizes blood from the cemetery. This action reminds the viewers of the impermanence of life with the dancers portrayed as enlightened beings who help liberate departed consciousness. It is believed that the dances help removing obstructions and enable living beings to come closer to enlightenment.
Dance of four stags
Guru Rinpoche subdued the God of wind (also the lord of the North-West direction) rode the stag which was the mount of god of wind. One of the disciples of Guru Rinpoche called Namkhai Nyingpo found the effigy of a face of a stag and hence the dance of the white stag came to be.
Dance of Drums of Drametse
A treasure discoverer named Pema Lingpa had his Son living in the Drametse village called Kunga Gyeltshen (learned Lama) who had vision of Guru Rinpoche’s Paradise and his attendants transforming into hundred kinds peaceful and wrathful deities with drums on their left hand and sticks on their right hands. After his visionary event, he taught the dance to his disciples. It is also a victory dance.
Dance of Ging Tsholing
On the occasion of the consecration of the Samye Monastery in Tibet, Guru Rinpoche initiated this dance to show to the people of Tibet the Zangdo pelri, the Paradise.
The inner dance called Ging is performed by the assembly of heroes (Pawos), tutelary deities and faires as well as the various terrifying male and female deities.
The outer dance called Tsholing dance is performed by the protectors of the religion, male and female with their retinues of eight classes of spirits.
This dance discourages the external demons and demonstrates clearly their magical powers to overcome them. It is also a purification dance before Guru’s arrival and people at the festival whistle to chase the demons and ging hits everybody on the heads with drumsticks to chase impurity out of the body.
Dance of the Stag and the Hounds (Shawa Shachhi)
The dance represents the conversion to Buddhism of the hunter named Gempo Dorji by Milarepa (Tibetan saint) in the 11th and 12th century.
In the 12th century, when Milarepa was in the cave at the border of Nepal and Tibet meditating, came a stag deer chased by an angry red dog and hunter Gempo Dorji, Milarepa sang a prayer for the deer and dog to calm down and both of them came to Milarepa and sat nearby but the hunter Gempo Dorji came angrily after a while and shouted at Milarepa, took his arrow out of quiver and shot his arrow but arrow flew towards Milarepa and slowly returned hitting himself. Thereafter, the hunter put his hunting equipments on the floor and prostrated towards Milarepa and begged for becoming his disciple, hence he became very devoted disciple.
Accompaniment Dance (Kyecham)
When King Norzang left for the North, the protectors of the religion, guardians of the doctrine and the assembly of King’s tutelary deities became the armed companions thanks to their various magical powers and they openly accompany himto war.
The Son of the old and a pretty girl got married. They seemed to be a compatible, but during a fight he cut off her nose. First their love was so great that they could not be separated but then they got attracted to somebody else because the mind and body are not constant , that is a universal law, which says that there is no real substance in worldly components.
The cause of happiness is faith in the Buddhist creed knowing that the three Jewels
(Buddha, Dharma and community of believers) are a refuge, which never fails.
Dance of Nobleman and the ladies (Phole and Mole)
The dance shows the story of a King Norzang in the northern India who had five hundred wives. One day the son of a hunter received a favour for saving life force from Serpent deity, he could even borrow noose which could bring anything. With it he caught the very beautiful daughter of King Driza called Yidroma, who was so beautiful that no human girl could compare. He offered her to King Norzang who became passionately attached to her and stopped looking at other queens. So, rest of the queens couldn’t bear it, so they asked black magicians to make king dream in form of a prophecy where he had to go for war.
Display of Small Maitreya Thangka at 6; 30am to 9;00 am (12th of 3rd lunar month)
A small Thongdroel representing the future Buddha Maitreya (jampa) is unfurled for the public to receive blessing which is also the highlights of the festival.