Gallery V – The Message of the Secred Dances

Every year the courtyard of Trongsa Dzong becomes an open-air dancing arena. By attending a tshechu, visitors gain the Buddha’s blessing or attain and experience spiritual release through a Tantric deity.

The focus of the proceedings is the sacred dances. The term cham which denotes the dramatic performances of the monks can perhaps best be translated as mystery plays, whose esoteric meaning is deeply embedded in the philosophical concepts of Tantric Buddhism. A series of dance can be interpreted as a means to activating the relation between humankind and deities as wel as a path to the attaining of liberating insights into the meaning of the Buddha’s teachings.

Some dances portray in a dramatic way the victory of Buddhist teachings over the unpredictable forces of the supernatural world. Other dance sequences are didactic in character, conveying moral or historical content. Still others purify the soul or drive away demons. To the spectator who is familiar with the religious and philosophical background, these dances also show the path to enlightenment. Whatever each individual may see in these dances, they express something that is very difficult to express in words alone. Dance is a living cult, a holy ceremony and the key to understanding the Buddhist religion.