Tang Namkha Lhakhang Rabney

This  three-day annual ritual commemorates the founding of Namkha lhakhang (Tang valley, Bumthang) by Lama Namkha Samdrup, hence the name Rabney. It is also performed for the peace and prosperity of  the  upper Tang villages which sponsor it.

The Tibetan Lama Namkha Sumdrup came to Tang after founding Ngang lhakhang in the upper Choekhor valley of Bumthang in the 16th century.  While performing  the consecration of this temple, he saw the Tang local deity Rinchen Goenyak, who is also the cattle deity, come as a yak and danced in the courtyard. The two other great protective deities Gonmo (Lhamo) and Gonpo join him as they accompanied the lama.

Based on this, Lama Namkha Samdrup established this annual event to which all the villagers contribute to please the deities. The lama from Thowadra monastery in Tang leads the ritual, Thowadra being the residence of the local deity.

The first day is dedicated to the preparation.

On the second day, women perform folk dances in the temple after the prayers are over. In the meantime, men dressed as warriors called pazaps, climb in a long procession up to Ogyen Choeling manor to invite the lord (Choeje) to the ceremony. On their way back, they are received by the women and all come back singing to the temple ground.

The highlights of the festival are the dances of Gonpo, Gonmo (Lhamo), also called ‘Gadpo’ and ‘Gadmo’ in Tang and Rinchen Goenyak. These three deities are represented by mannequins wearing huge masks and moved by people.

The yak, also simply called Dawala by the villagers, is very popular and its wooden mask has articulate jaws which clap, and it is considered as a blessing.

Offering of rice cakes (tshogs) to the guests of honor is a very important part of the ritual. The guests have to reciprocate with money. Finally money is also offered to the deities in a ceremonial and public manner while dancing and drinking continue into the night.

The last day is a repetition of the 2nd day, minus the procession to Ogyenchoeling.


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