Cham – Tibetan Buddhist Lama Dance

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  • A traditional Cham Lama dance is an event held by Tibetan monasteries during special Buddhist festivals.
  • Monks in colorful 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.

Where did the cham dance originate?

  • The cham dance was first performed in Tibet more than 300 years ago in celebration of the birthday of Guru Padmasambhava. Now, cham dances are performed to celebrate a number of different holidays and festivals.
  • Traditionally, dance was used as a way for religious figures to tell stories to people in a time when most of the population was unable to read or write.
  • Because of this, cham dances became an important way of spreading teachings and blessings.

What does the cham dance look like?

  • During the cham dance, monks will wear colorful costumes whilst dancing to the sounds of traditional instruments.
  • There is a very particular sequence to the dance that requires those performing it to be strong and able to dance whilst wearing heavy masks.
  • The cham dance itself is seen as a form of meditation, whereby those dancing are imagining themselves as an embodiment of the deities.

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