Cham or sacred dance is a feature of many Tibetan festivals. This ancient dance possesses many levels of meaning and is seen as a practice for purification and overcoming negative obstacles. It is said the great religious master Padmasambhava first performed the dance to purify the ground for the building of Samye monastery.
Accompanied by monks using traditional Tibetan instruments, the Cham dancer performs solemn movements passed on in oral instruction from master to student. The dance is like a “meditation in action”. Each gesture has significance, creating a sacred space where the dancer concentrates on specific centers and chakras throughout the performance.
The tradition of Namgyal Monastery’s ritual dance, along with many other ritual activities was established during the time of Seventh Dalai Lama, Kalsang Gyatso. One of the unique ritual dances is the dance of Kalahchakra, which is well known in Tibetan as Ghar and this dance has to be perform by a group of Namgyal monks whenever His Holiness the Dalai Lama give the Kalachakra Initiation. And Namgyal Monastery is the only monastery that holds or preserves the unique traditional dance of Kalachakra. Besides the Kalachakra dance, the monks of Namgyal also preserve and perform the other ritual dances of Black Hat, Cemetery, Old man, Deer, Five Dankini and Mask dance.