Bhutan is long been known as the mysterious country, which has intentionally secluded itself from the rest of the world in order to protect its unique cultures and sacred traditions. The country is well known for mesmerizing the pilgrims and explorers from worldwide. Apart from the enchanting landscapes, Dzongs, hot springs, and monasteries, Bhutan has long treasured traditions that feature dazzling and vibrant religious dances and festivals. Tshechu or annual festivals are regarded as un-miss-able and top attractions in Bhutan. Amongst all the activities mask dances are considered most anticipated activities during Tshechus. So, while on your trip to Bhutan make sure you attend one that is presented to invoke their deities and ward off the evils. So, here are some facts and significance of the magical and mysterious mask dances in Bhutan.
1. History or origin of mask dance in Bhutan
Bhutanese mask dances have been evolved in 3 periods.
- 1st introduced by Guru Padmasambhava
- 2nd by Saint Pema Lingpa
- 3rd by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, the founder of Bhutan
In the second period, in Pema Lingpa’s tenure, a path to paradise was created by various sets of attendant and acrobats. In the third stage, mask dances were inducted as crucial activities on annual festivities in Thimphu. Mask dances are greatly associated with the spiritual affair and each celebration features mask dances.
2. Mask dances are the epitome of spirituality, victory, prosperity, and joy
Mask dances are performed in order to invoke male and female deities, sages and saints and all the mythical and legendary personalities. It is performed with devotion with drums, cymbals, conch shells, drums, horns, and bells that rips the air. It may appear very entertaining externally, but when seen with better insight, symbolizes victory, wealth, joy, spirituality, and various stages of life.
3. Significance of the mask dances in Bhutan
Dance and music are culturally significant to the Bhutanese people. Mask dance or Chhams are usually performed during Tshechus celebrations. Mask dance personify communal occasions, passing seasons, and shared feelings and experiences. Mask dances that are performed in the Dzongs are crucial for unifying people and help them know more about their place, culture, and history. Besides, mask dances also deliver religious messages to people. It is believed that they ward off evils and misfortunes by invoking to their deities during the performance.
3. The performance of mask dance in Bhutan
The significance of mask dance performance is immense. These dance steps are not created but regarded as the representation of divinities and celestial dances that have been felt by the spiritual leaders when they were in intense meditative trances. It is believed that a dancer is purified of the sins while he performs, but women are exempted from performing the mask dance. Bhutanese believe that their souls and sins will be purified, and prosperity and good luck will be bestowed upon their lives by witnessing the mask dances. So, don’t you dare miss the mask dance performances during your Bhutan tour!
4. Different types of mask dances in Bhutan
Chhams or religious mask dances have been classified into 3 groups.
i. Dramatic dances that push morality
ii. Dances that protect people from harmful spirits
iii. One that celebrates victories
5. Mask dances performed today
Mask dances are basically performed during Tshechus in every important Dzongs, monasteries, and temple. The celebrations usually last from 3 days to a week. Tshechus are most anticipated events of Bhutan that is celebrated every 10th day of the months and attracts massive crowds from across the kingdom. People attend the festivals to attend the mask dances in their best of traditional attires and anticipate blessings and spiritual well being.
6. Major places where Tshechus and mask dances are performed:
Paro during spring, Thimphu and Bumthang in autumn, Punakha, and Trongsa in winter
So, prepare to get blessed with these mask dance performances in Bhutan. You can avail Bhutan culture trip and measure your journey to Bhutan at the best holiday in Bhutan cost at best deals and discounts.