For special occasions, usually for Losar (ལོ་གསར་ – Tibetan New Year) or the Tshechu festival in Bhutan (ཚེས་བཅུ་ – Tshechu – literally Day Ten, celebrated on the tenth day of a lunar month), the lamas (བླ་མ་ bla ma – Tibetan Buddhist teachers or Gurus) perform a set of sacred dances.
The monks dance dressed in elaborate robes and masks and are depicted as protectors, some are Worldly protectors bound by promises and some are Dharma Protectors, enlightened beings easily recognisable with a third eye, called a wisdom eye, in their forehead.
Others dress in white and where a skull mask symbolising death, reminding us that everything is impermanent.
The music that accompanies the dance requires an acquired taste. It may not be beautiful on an ordinary level, but on a higher level of enlightenment it is supposed to be exquisite. Unfortunately I am still at a very ordinary level.
I’ve witnessed these dances in Bhutan (Paro – སྤ་རོ་ and Talo – རྟ་ལོག་), in a Buddhist retreat place in the south of Spain, and more recently in Maidstone Leisure Centre. The lamas who were performing in Maidstone were monks from Pokhara (Nepal) and had been travelling throughout Europe, dancing in several big cities. They had left Nepal a few days before the big earthquake struck. The group consisted of His Eminence the 3rd Dupsing Rinpoche, Tulku Tseyang Rinpoche and the lamas and monks of Jangchub Choeling Monastery in Pokhara.
They also performed in Aldershot in the presence of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.