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Raksha Mangcham, Ura Yakchoe: Final Day of Festival [Wide shot]

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Raksha Mangcham

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Raksha Mangcham, Ura Yakchoe: Final Day of Festival [Wide shot]
Additional title: Dance of the Judgement of the Dead
Core of Culture (Organization) (Producer)
Core of Culture (Organization) (Donor)

Bhutan Dance Project, Core of Culture

Dates / Origin
Date Created: 2005
Library locations
Jerome Robbins Dance Division
Shelf locator: *MGZIDF 847A
Dance -- Bhutan
Folk dancing -- Bhutan
Dance -- Religious aspects -- Buddhism
Rites & ceremonies -- Bhutan
Masks -- Bhutan
Dzongs -- Bhutan -- Bumthang (District)
Bumthang (Bhutan : District)
Festivals -- Bhutan
Ritual and ceremonial dancing -- Bhutan
Mask dances -- Bhutan
Animal dances -- Bhutan
Filmed dance
Filmed performances
Additional physical form: For close shot version, see: *MGZIDF 847B.
Content: Programme of the Ura Yakchoe: Day Four: Apri 24, 2005: 3:30 am: Wake up call - The lama and the monks are woken up by the Gathpo clown, by a monk blowing the Jaling (oboe) and by singing girls -- 4:30 am: The morning ritual The lama and the priests assemble to perform the sadhana ceremony of Vajrapani and the invocation of Padmasambhava within the temple -- 8:00 am: Public call - The monks perform monastic music on the temple roof to summon the village to the temple ground -- 9:00 am: Fetching of Masks The monks performing mask dances fetch the masks needed for the day from the upper shrine room -- 10:00 am: Lunch The priests have their early lunch -- 11:00 am: Beginning of Masked Dances and Folk Dances From 11 am, the monks perform mask dances and the village girls perform folk dances alternately. These Masked dances include: Shazam (The Deer Dance), Rakusha Gocham (The Rakusha dance at the door) -- 3:00 pm: Tea Offering The public joins the monks in the temple to have tea sponsored by the individual units of the village -- 4:00 pm: Shawa Shachi (The Hound and Stag dance) Performance of the second scene of the drama about the hunter Gyonpo Dorje and Milarepa -- 6:00 pm: Public dances The day ends with folk dances led by the village elders -- 7:00 pm: Evening ceremony and Alcohol Tasting The monks start the evening session of rituals and the village elders assemble to taste singchang in the temple.
Venue: Videotaped in performance at the Ura Lakhang, in Bumthang, Bhutan (East-facing window overlooking courtyard), on Apr. 24, 2005.
Acquisition: Gift; Core of Culture. NN-PD
Biographical/historical: The Ura Yakchoe is said to be associated with a visit to Ura by the great 8th Century saint, Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche. The story is told how the people of Ura prayed to Padmasambhava to protect them from Leprosy. The Guru answered this call and by appearing in the village disguised as a mendicant and was invited to eat lunch by an old lady who was engaged in spinning wool. She made a lunch of buckwheat pancakes (traditional Bumthang food) but was surprised to find the beggar no longer there when she called him to eat. When she later returned to her spinning she discovered a precious statue of Vajrapani lying within her wool basket. Two different versions exist of the subsequent history of the statue. In the first version, three days later the statue miraculously flies from the old lady s house to the nearby village of Gadan. Another version has it that the statue was presented to the Gadan Lam by agreement amongst all the village people of Ura. It is also said that when the statue of Vajrapani arrived in Gadan, a nine-headed snake was disturbed and slithered out of the Ura Valley. The place is still known as Puguyungdhogo (Place of the nine-headed snake.) Leprosy, a disease thought to be spread by serpents (spirits) was eventually overcome in the Ura Valley by the blessings of Vajrapani.
Biographical/historical: The festival begins on the 12th Day of the Third Month (Lunar Calendar) with the procession of the Vajrapani relic from Gadan to the Ura Lhakhang. It ends five days later, on the 16th Day of the Third Month.
Physical Description
Born digital
Extent: 1 video file (104 min.) : sound, color
This very long dance is made even longer here by the Atsaras getting money from the audience to give as gifts to the dancers. Not all the dance was filmed - but the majority of it is here. This was the last tape we filmed at the Ura Yakchoe in 2005. This long drama about the judgment of souls is normally performed on the penultimate day of a festival. The drama is based upon the sacred text, the Bardo Thosgrol, (the Book of the Dead) by the Fourteenth Century Saint Karma Lingpa (1327 to 1387). The drama centers around the trial of a recently deceased soul by the name of Nyalbam before the Great Lord of Purgatory, Shinjey Choki Gyelpo, who is there to pronounce judgment on his sins. The character of Shinjey is sometimes assumed by an eminent lama wearing a fierce mask (see Ura, Yungdrung Choeling versions) and at other times is taken by a huge cane puppet (see Thimphu, Paro and Korphu versions). In whichever version, Shinjey is represented as carrying a magical mirror that reflects the truth of all the actions of an accused soul, making it impossible for them to lie about the past. The Accused has on his side the Defending Counsel, a Good spirit, the white-faced Lha Kharpo, who pleads that his poverty and ignorance are all mitigating circumstances that explain his crimes and sins. On the other side is the fearsome Prosecutor Due Nagpo who argues that the accused is a serial criminal and recounts a long list of crimes he has committed including the killing of wild-life, pollution of the environment, offending people, fraud, defamation etc. etc. The trail takes place before a full court of the attendants of Shinjey, the Shinjey Lakhen who might number anywhere from six to twenty-six animal-headed spirits. The name Mangcham implies that the dance takes place with a full complement of members of the jury who will present evidence, listen to the charges for and the defense of the accused and then participate in the process of judgment. A full version of the Raksha Mang Chham might include the following: On the Right Side - led by the Ox (Raksha), Boar (Phag), Male Garuda (Chhung-Po), Lion (Singye), Raven (Ja-rog), Tiger (Tag), Oxen (Lang), Leopard (Zig), Makara (Chhu Sin), Wolf (Chang), Goat (Ra), Horse (Ta), and Dragon (Druk). On the Left side - led by the Male Stag (Shaw Po), Snake (Druel), Monkey (Treu), Female Garuda (Chhung-mo), Bear (Dom), Dog (Khi), Female Stag (Shaw-mo), Wild Dog (Faw), Sheep (Lug), Rat (Gew), Hoopoe (Dreto Zen), Owl (Woogpa) and Abominable Snowman (Migoe). Following the judgment of the sinner Nyalbam and his being sent off to further punishment on a black carpet, another judgment is performed, this time on a pious person who has lived a blessed life. The judgment is this time in his favor and the virtuous man Palkyed is rewarded by being escorted on a white carpet by fairies to a more blessed place. The Due Nagpo is furious to have lost a soul and tries, unsuccessfully, to snatch him at the end.
Type of Resource
Moving image
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b19893455
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 3433dfe0-e65a-0130-f40f-3c075448cc4b
Copyright Notice
Core of Culture
Rights Statement
This item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).

Item timeline of events

  • 2005: Created
  • 2013: Digitized
  • 2024: Found by you!
  • 2025

MLA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Raksha Mangcham" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 2005.

Chicago/Turabian Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Raksha Mangcham" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed April 20, 2024.

APA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. (2005). Raksha Mangcham Retrieved from

Wikipedia Citation

<ref name=NYPL>{{cite web | url= | title= (moving image) Raksha Mangcham, (2005)|author=Digital Collections, The New York Public Library |accessdate=April 20, 2024 |publisher=The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations}}</ref>

Raksha Mangcham