To mark the first birth anniversary of HRH The Gyalsey Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck

Religion: Villagers of Threphu in Trashigang performed a unique sacred mask dance known as the Keng cham to mark the first birth anniversary of His Royal Highness The Gyalsey Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck at Gyalpoizhing, Mongar.

The Keng cham was one of the programmes from the six eastern dzongkhags presented during the three-day annual Gyalpoizhing tshechu that concluded on February 7.

The tshechu was held coinciding with the birth anniversary of HRH The Gyalsey.

Thousands of spectators witnessed the Keng cham wherein 12 dancers wear white shorts and carry a phallus in their right hand. Relatives cannot witness the dance together.

Threphu chiwog tshogpa Chimi Rinzin said they were happy for the opportunity to perform the Keng cham during the annual Gyalpoizhing tshechu. “The Keng cham will get rid of illness, remove all the unwanted desires and bad luck,” he said. “It will also benefit us when we die.”

Champoen Rinzin Dorji said great masters and saints discovered the Keng cham. It was derived from Terton Karma Lingpa’s treasure book Gongpa Rangdrol Theadrel Chenpo. “The Keng cham is also performed for the benefit of animals and well-being of the country,” Rinzin Dorji said.

One of the dancers Yonten Loday said that in the past, their forefathers performed the dance naked.

The dance is performed early in the morning. Besides locals, people from nearby villages also gathered to witness the dance and get blessings.

Some spectators said that the dance is not performed in other dzongkhags.

A spectator said that he was embarrassed to witness the dance in the presence of his family members. “But we are glad that we are here to witness the dance and are blessed,” Kota Dorji said.

Tashi Phuntsho |  Gyalpoizhing