Tamzhing Phala Choepa’s Historical Significance

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The annual Tamzhing Phala Choepa held at the Tamzhing monastery in Bumthang is a festival in commemoration of the construction of the monastery in the 16th century.

 

The annual Tamzhing Phala Choepa held at the Tamzhing monastery in Bumthang is a festival in commemoration of the construction of the monastery in the 16th century.

Built by Terton Pema Lingpa and his protecting deity, Dorji Phagmo or the Diamond Sow, the three-day festival is a vibrant display of mask dances. The Khandroi Gar Cham, a 500-year old dance, was performed during the consecration of the monastery.

The dancers move in unison as they performed the Khandroi Gar Cham or the dance of the Dakinis in precise choreography. With the soothing sound of Damaru and Drilbu, there was a feeling of complete calmness about the place.

“The day before the consecration of the monastery in 1505, Terton Pema Lingpa thought about what sort of dance he should perform during the celebration and later, five Ngapas, who were the manifestations of Guru Rinpoche appeared in his vision and revealed all the procedures of the ceremony and various dances,” said Tshulthrim Lotey, Umze of Tamzhing Monastery.

The next morning, Pema Lingpa himself taught the dances to his disciples and held the ceremony.

The festival got its name as Phala Choepa following a mask dance performed by Terton Pema Lingpa, wearing a mask of a pig, sculpted by himself. The tradition is also a celebration of the time when Pema Lingpa’s protecting deity or Yidam Dorji Phagmo appeared in the form of a pig and presented him with the architectural design of the monastery. The three-day festival ended on 2 Oct 2017. It attracts large crowds including tourists every year.

 

By Kipchu (This article has been edited for the Daily Bhutan).

This article first appeared in BBS.

 

 


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