Jampey Lhakhang


Jampey Lhakhang

Jampey Lhakhang is revered as one of the oldest temples in Bhutan. Like Kyichu in Paro, it is said to date back to the 7th century. To overcome the demon that was encompassing Tibet and threatening Buddhism, King Songtsengampo built this temple on her knee.

Jambay Lhakhang Drup
The festival is held for dual reasons; to commemorate the establishment of Jambay Lhakhang (temple) in 7th century and to honor Guru Rimpoche, a saint who introduced Tantric form of Buddhism in Bhutan. A variety of traditional and mask dances are performed and each dance bear significant meaning/importance.

This festival is one of the most important in Bhutan and its highlight is the ‘Mewang” – the fire ceremony and the “Tercham” – a religious dance. A fire dance is held in the evening to bless infertile women so that they may bear children. The “Tercham” or the naked dance is one of the festival’s highlights and a renowned item among the spectators. Exactly at midnight, sixteen naked men sprint out of the monastery’s door galloping in the air to the rhythmic accompaniment of the beatings of the traditional drums and cymbals. These dancers are completely naked except for their faces which are covered in white cloths and masks. They are the sacred naked dancers of the Jambay Lhakhang and this dance is known as the “Tercham”.
It is believed that the dance was introduced by the great treasure discoverer, Tertoen Dorji Lingpa on the prophecy of the Guru Rimpoche in the 8th century. The dance originated from Nabji Korphu in Trongsa. The demons delayed the construction of a monastery by destroying it in every night. Tertoen Dorji Lingpa launched this sacred dance to distract the demons. In due course of time, the monastery was completed and consecrated. Tertoen Dorji Lingpa brought the dance to Jambay Lhakhang during its consecration.

The locals describe the dance as one of the most revered in Bumthang. They believe that the penis is one of the most precious treasures, as all sentient beings are brought into the world by this organ.
Their dance around the fire near family and friends causes tremendous discomfort and embarrassment for the 16 performers, but they are proud to be a part of the sacred dance. Friends who recognized the performers were not allowed to call their names out in the crowd.

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