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Dramitse Nga Cham, Dzongdrakha Tsechu: First and Final Day [Close shot]

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Dramitse Nga Cham, Dzongdrakha Tsechu: First and Final Day [Close shot]
Additional title: Drum Dance of Dramitse
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 675B
Dance -- Bhutan
Folk dancing -- Bhutan
Dance -- Religious aspects -- Buddhism
Rites & ceremonies -- Bhutan
Festivals -- Bhutan
Dzongs -- Bhutan -- Paro (District)
Paro (Bhutan : District)
Drum dances -- Bhutan
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.
Venue: Videotaped in performance at the small courtyard, Dzongdrakha Lhakhang (ground level), Paro Valley, on Mar. 26, 2005.
Acquisition: Gift; Core of Culture. NN-PD
Physical Description
Born digital
Extent: 1 video file (26 min.) : sound, color
The Dramitse Nga Cham the Drum Dance of Dramitse is perhaps the most famous dance in the entire country of Bhutan. The Dramitse Nga Cham dates back to the 15th Century, when Ani Chorten Zangmo, of Bumthang, was supposed to marry the son of the Chhokkor Deb. However, she refused to take this path, preferring instead to pursue a spiritual and contemplative life, and so she became a nun. Her uncle, the great Terton Pema Lingpa, gave her a white Conch shell and prophesied that her destiny would lie in that place where the Conch produced its most beautiful sound. The nun set off travelling to the South-east, beyond Kurtoe Aja (a place very sacred to the memory of Guru Rinpoche) until she came to a small Goenpa (or temple) called Dupchu Goenpa in a place that was called Bramitse (the hill where no one lives). On blowing the conch shell there, she produced a most pleasing musical sound, and decided that this would indeed be a favourable place to reside so she renamed the place Dramitse the hill free of enemies (Dra - Dzk. means enemy; Mi - Dzk. means No and Tse - Dzk. means hill. ) The younger brother of Ani Chorten Zangmo, Kunga Gyaltshen (also known as Kunga Nyingpo or Kunga Wangpo) was a learned Lama, who often visualised Guru Rinpoche in his meditations. Through his intense powers of concentration he was able to travel to Zangdo Pelrhi (the Glorious Copper-Coloured Mountain Paradise) which is the abode of Guru Rinpoche. There, on one such visit, the Lama was amazed to see the heavenly attendants of Guru Rinpoche transform themselves into one hundred wrathful and peaceful deities and perform an exquisite dance. In their left hand they held large drums, which they beat with drumsticks held in their right hands as they performed the intricate movements of the dance. The Lama understood that Guru Rinpoche s intention was to demonstrate to him how the medium of dance could be used to deliver very powerful messages to human beings and instruct them about the deeper mysteries of faith. When he returned to Dramitse he was able to compose a simulacrum of the dance he had seen, and he also worked into the composition elements of other drum dances revealed by other great tertons (treasure revealers) such as Sangye Lingpa and Ugyen Lingpa. This was the dance that was performed at the consecration of the Temple eventually built at Dramitse, a few hours walk from the original Dupchu Goenpa. The result was the establishment of the tradition of the Drum Dance of Dramitse, which was, for many centuries only ever performed in Dramitse, the place of its origin, in Mongar Dzongkhag. However, later in the twentieth Century, this famous dance began to spread around the country, as it became a much-favoured item and was introduced to many other religious festivals, as dancers from Dramitse carried it with them and taught it in other places. One of the effects of this rapid distribution was that the original dance which took some three hours to perform and was divided into 21 Sections was never performed in its entirety elsewhere and indeed different and shorter versions began to proliferate with steps and movements diverging from the original. The original version sees sixteen dancers wearing a variety of animal masks including an Owl, a Garuda, (Ja Chung) a Bear, a Leopard and the twelve animals of the Bhutanese horoscope. Each of the dancers carries a drum in his right hand, with the exception of the Champoen (dance leader) who carries a small pair of cymbals which provide timing clues to the other dancers. The original dance also included a fifteen-minute ceremony during which the local people would made offerings of the traditional khadar (white scarf) to the dancers. Core of Culture has so far not had the opportunity to witness the dance performed in Dramitse itself, and the many versions of the Dramitse Drum dance that have been recorded for this database are therefore performed by other groups. However, in early 2007, during a special meeting of the different Peling dance traditions organised by Core of Culture at the Yungdrung Choeling Dzong (a place sacred to the memory of Pema Lingpa) a group of eight dancers from Dramitse, who attended that convention, performed the whole of the original 21-Section version, for the first time ever away from the original courtyard of Dramitse.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.
Type of Resource
Moving image
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b19770625
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 49e7ebc0-8292-0130-ed3c-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. "Dramitse Nga Cham" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 2005.

Chicago/Turabian Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Dramitse Nga Cham" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed September 24, 2020.

APA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. (2005). Dramitse Nga Cham Retrieved from

Wikipedia Citation

<ref name=NYPL>{{cite web | url= | title= (moving image) Dramitse Nga Cham, (2005)|author=Digital Collections, The New York Public Library |accessdate=September 24, 2020 |publisher=The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations}}</ref>

Dramitse Nga Cham