Jachung Michung

Jachung Michung is a very unusual religious dance which is performed only in two places in Bumthang, one of them being Buli temple and the other one is in Jamba Lakhang . It is a mask dance performed in the style of a theater performance, and said to be a “treasure” revealed by the great saint Dorje Lingpa (14th century AD).The purpose of the dance is to chase away evil spirits and establish harmony and peace in the community and family. This dance is performed once every two years to commemorate victory over evils. The performers are gomchen, lay religious practioners, common to this part of Bhutan.

The main characters in the dance are a Michung (“small man”) who is considered as the son of the god Jajin (Indra) and a Jachung (Garuda). The dance is based on the well-known folk story of a princess who lost her way from China to Tibet where she was to marry the king. One day, the king of gods, Jajin, happened to meet the wandering princess in the forest and they had a relation resulting in the birth of a son. However the princess was determined to marry the king of Tibet, and she left the child all by himself in the forest.

Two Jachungs (Garuda, mythical bird) spotting the child (Michung), downed on to him. But fortunately, Jajin who was the biological father, had the foresight of this incident. He came to the child’s rescue and drove away the Jachungs, thus saving his life.

The dance as it is performed in reality at Buli, represents the child as having a whole human family, including siblings, who try their best to save him from the Jachung. One of the most important episodes is when the folkwomen who desire to have a child are blessed with sacrificial cakes in the form of phalluses. It is said that this ritual is a blessing for childless parents in order to conceive.

Research team                                               

Lopen Nagwang Jamtsho, Lopen Tashi Tobgay, Lopen Karma Drupchu
Lecturers, Institute of Language and Culture Studies, Royal University of Bhutan, 2009

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