The 6th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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The cham dance (Tibetan and Dzongkha: འཆམ་; Wylie: 'cham), also spelled tscham or chaam, is a lively masked and costumed dance associated with some sects of Buddhism, and is part of Buddhist festivals. The dance is accompanied by music played by monks using traditional Tibetan instruments. The dances often offer moral instruction relating to compassion for sentient beings and are held to bring merit to all who perceive them.
Cham dances are considered a form of meditation, and an offering to the gods. The leader of the cham is typically a musician, keeping time using some percussion instrument like cymbals, the one exception being Dramyin Cham - where time is kept using dramyin.
The great debate of the Council of Lhasa between the two principal debators or dialecticians, Mo Ho Yen and Kamalaśīla is narrated and depicted in a specific cham dance once held annually at Kum-Bum Dshamba Ling, Tibet. Localities
In Bhutan, the dances are performed during an annual religious festival known as Tsechu, which is held in each district. Only monks or male members of the Royal Academy of Performing Arts are allowed to perform a cham dance in Bhutan.