Monastic Cham of Arunachal Pradesh: Various Meanings of the Vibrant Dances

in Image Gallery
Published on: 26 December 2019

Dr Manash Pratim Borah

Dr Manash Pratim Borah is an Assistant Professor of English, Central Institute of Himalayan Culture Studies, Arunachal Pradesh. He has authored a book in English titled ‘Ethnicity, Identity and Literature: Reading Literatures from Northeast India’, 2014, and a book in Assamese titled Kuri Goraki Engraj Kobi (A critique on 20 English poets). He is also a translator from English to Assamese.

Cham is a unique ritualistic mask dance form performed in the Buddhist monasteries of the Geluk and Nyingma sects in the West Kameng and Tawang districts of Arunachal Pradesh. 

Chams have profound mythological significance for the people who perform them. The monks and nuns perform the cham mainly during the Torgya festival that falls before Losar (the new year of the lunar calendar) to eliminate the evil and detrimental spirits and reinstate order, peace and harmony in human life and society at large.  

This photo gallery exhibits how the chams carry various influences of Mahayana and Varjayana Buddhism along with elements of pantomime and secret tantric practices. It also showcases various musical instruments intrinsic to the dance traditions.