Ancient spiritual dances are performed throughout the tsechu, a Bhutanese Tantric Buddhism festival. These spiritual dances are collectively known as Cham or mask dances.
Each dances convey religious messages to the devotees. The sequel of these dances are composed by saints of the Tantric Buddhism including Guru Rinpoche, also known as Padmasambhava.
Deities are invoked during the dances to give blessings and to ward off evil spirits. The dances are performed with continuos whirling in a meditative state of mind, some with a knife in the dancer’s hand.
Such intense dance movement is to purify the space and to invite the blessing of the divinities. These dances are sacred and are not entertainment even though they are opened to the public.
The Atsara (clowns) are a big hit with the crowd. They are mostly monks in disguise. They mock the audience, they dance and go around with a phallus to bless the spectators with a little humour. The gesture is to ward off evils and bring good luck. Their act can be quite abrupt, simply to make people feel embarrassed. Embarrassment is also a blessing and it helps to cleanse any unwanted or evil thoughts that comes into mind.
The Shava or Deer Dance.
The Durdag Dance is the dance of the Keepers of Cremation Grounds. Dancers wear skull masks to signify the keeper of the cemetery that guard cremation grounds from evil spirits.
The Black Hat Dance is also known as the Shana Cham in Tibet. This dance is performed to commemorate the assassination of the Tibetan King, Langdarma in 842 AD by Pelkyi Dorji, a Buddhist monk. The King was against Buddhism. The Black Hat Dance is performed in sequels, from a graceful walk with slow steps and chanting with handgestures to fast whirling movements around the dance arena.
The Pholey Moley, dance of the noblemen and ladies.