Cham at Hemis Monastery: 1

Cham is a ritual dance in the tantric Buddhist tradition of the Himalayas. We were lucky that it was on at the Hemis monastery at the time we visited. I was well enough on the last day of the festival to struggle uphill to watch it. I have only shown you stills from the festival before, but a dance is movement, and stills do not capture it.

So here is a video that I stitched together from the snippets I took. I have called it the Dance of the Skeletons before, but I’m not sure that this was it. Maybe I should call it the Dance of the Eleven Masks. In the video I have been agnostic about the name. Being the first dance of the sequence, it is possibly about ritually cleaning the space for the next dances. You can see tourists busy taking photos and videos, but the locals sit still and watch it. Our driver for the day, Tsering, was happy to join the crowd. He later told us that it may be a dance for us, but it was prayer for him.


By I. J. Khanewala

I travel on work. When that gets too tiring then I relax by travelling for holidays. The holidays are pretty hectic, so I need to unwind by getting back home. But that means work.


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