This summer we arrived in Kaza in time for the GUTAR FESTIVAL at KEY GOMPA on 12th July.
This is performed at LOSAR the Tibetan New Year Celebration, but as this is always held in the winter (in November in Spiti)
However, T.K. LOCHEN TULKU the Spiritual Head of KEY Monastery decided to hold the ceremony every year on 12th July, this gives visitors to the valley the privilege of attending one of the most important ceremonies in the Tibetan calendar.
The Cham Dance or “Devil Dance” is a sacred performance by trained monk dancers acting the role of various divinities. They wear awesome masks usually of images of the “earth bound” protectors of the doctrine.
The masks are made of paper mashe and considered sacred, the black hat represents Meru, the red hat represents impermanence.
Each movement and gesture of the dance, which is accompanied by music of long trumpets, shawns, drums, and cymbols that follow a strictly ordained symbolism. The primary function of the Cham Dance is the physical manifestation of the protector dieties of the particular monastery.
The dancers ritually stab a small sacrificial tsampa model of a human body known as a LINGA – this represents an exorcism of evil over the whole community. This is performed in order to get rid of all negative energy and bring renewal of positive energy to the people. The image is caste into a fire to destroy the negativity of the old year. This is the New Year (Losar) ceremony of the “Great Prayer” brings with it new positive energy.