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Raksha Mangcham, Dzongdrakha Tsechu: First and Final Day [Wide shot]

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Raksha Mangcham, Dzongdrakha Tsechu: First and Final Day [Wide shot]

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Raksha Mangcham, Dzongdrakha Tsechu: First and Final Day [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 676A
Dance -- Bhutan
Folk dancing -- Bhutan
Dance -- Religious aspects -- Buddhism
Rites & ceremonies -- Bhutan
Festivals -- Bhutan
Dzongs -- Bhutan -- Paro (District)
Paro (Bhutan : District)
Filmed dance
Filmed performances
Content: The Festival at Dzongdrakha Lhakhang is very particular in that it takes place only for one day - and that day is fixed as the day after the ending of the Paro Tsechu. Dzongdrakha Tsechu First and Final Day, 3/26/2005. The first part of the festival takes place around the Lhakhang before moving in procession to a more open space for the dances. Chhoe Zhey - Dharma Song ; Berkor Cham - Circumambulatory Procession ; Gyuan Drug Pawo - Dance of the Heroes with six kinds of ornaments ; Jipai Pawo - Dance of the Honor Guards ; Shinjey - Dance of the Lord of Death and his Consort ; Durdag - Dance of the Four Lords of the Charnel Grounds ; Pa Cham - Dance of the Heroes ; Dramitse Nga Cham - The Drum Dance of Dramitse ; Raksha Mangcham - Dance of the Judgement of the Dead.
Biographical/historical: According to Chhojugun Lhosar Ngagyen, in the 13th century, a Ngingmapa lama, Karzhi Rinchen Samten Pelzang dreamt of a khandrum, instructing him to go to a place called Zhungphug in Moen Yuel, where the treasures of Ugyen Rinpoche were hidden. Lam Karzhi Rinchen Samten Pelzang then shared his dream with a dedicated disciple, Drupthog Gyenpo Dorji from Latoet Jangdrog Taktsheit who later followed the instruction given to Lam Krzhi Rinchen Samten Pelzang by the khandrum in his dream. Drubthog Gyenpo Dorji then proceeded towards Moen Yuel in 1428, in Earth Bird Year, in search of the place called Zhungphug in Paro. It is said that when he reached a riverside and didn t know where to go, a jackal came and showed him the direction to Zhungphug. Thus, this particular place came to be known as Wachu , the place presently known as Woochu . The Drubthog along with the jackal, however, followed the right side of the river and reached near a cave where they met a dumb boy who miraculously spoke for the first time as soon as he saw the Drubthog . It was then, when the Drubthog saw the extreme joy of the family that he named it the Ghadrak. The mother as gratitude to the Drubthog sponsored him food and clothes during his meditation period. A day came, while meditating, when he had a spiritual vision of Guru Rinpoche giving him a crystal sword, with which he hit the cave and a huge rock fell in front of him. It is believed that from this rock, he found a crystal stupa (chorten) which was as long as an arrow and three egg-shaped relics of Sangay Youelsum (karshapa). Two of the three relics are said to have flown away at that very instant. Drubthog Gyenpo Dorji then took the remaining one relic and the stupa in a sack and reached a valley. The people in this valley, having known about the treasure inside the sack claimed it to be theirs. They said that it belonged to them and also said that it was only them, who had the rights over the treasure. Because of this, this valley came to be known as Bangdey which is known as Bondue today. The Drubthog later constructed a Lhakhang and installed this treasure (the crystal stupa and the relic) as a sacred monument inside it and named it as Dzongdrakha Lhakhang. Damchhoen Dorji Legpa was the deity of the Lhakhang, who protected the Lhakhang and the sacred monument inside it. It is believed that the relic used to shake on the auspicious days, because of which the people named the crystal stupa Chorten Karmogyel. The Drubthog, who had spent all his life in this Lhakhang ultimately died there. After the death of Drubthog Gyenpo Dorji, his reincarnations started the lineage of Dzongdra Chhoeje and also built many Lhakhangs and Monasteries in and around the place. It is also said that sometimes later the Rinpung Ngeteng (the head lama of a dratshang) Jangchung Zangpo, renovated the Lhakhang and built a new chorten in front of the Lhakhang.
Biographical/historical: This Tsechu takes place on the 16th day of the Second Month of the Bhutanese calendar and lasts for just one day. It marks the final day of the Paro Tsechu which starts on the 11th day of the Second Month.
Venue: Videotaped in performance at the small courtyard, Dzongdrakha Lhakhang (upper level), Paro Valley, on Mar. 26, 2005.
Acquisition: Gift; Core of Culture. NN-PD
Physical Description
Born digital
Extent: 1 video file (33 min.) : sound, color
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 l'Po), Snake (Druel), Monkey (Treu), Female Garuda (Chhung-mo), Bear (Dom), Dog (Khi), Female Stag (Shaw-l'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): b19770629
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 483389c0-8292-0130-e80a-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
  • 2020: Found by you!
  • 2021

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 September 25, 2020.

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=September 25, 2020 |publisher=The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations}}</ref>

Raksha Mangcham