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14:00, Friday 29th June, Bragg

Director: Dawa Lepcha, Anna Balikci, Asen Balikci (India)

Year: 2007

Run time: 52'

Location/Ethnic group: India/ Lepcha

Language: In Lepcha with English subtitles

Production/Distribution: Namgyal Institute of Tibetology

Cham in the Lepcha Village of Lingthem

Every winter, over a period of six days, the lamas of the Lingthem village monastery hold their annual cham. These dramatic ritual masked dances impart elementary Buddhist teachings while providing entertainment to villagers. Their main purpose is to remove obstacles and ward off misfortune for the village, its inhabitants and the monastery. However, for lamas and more serious Buddhist practitioners, these cham and their rituals hold deep philosophical meanings. In the course of this event, the deities who emerge in the period between death and rebirth make their rhythmic appearances followed by the Lord of Death who judges one's good and bad deeds in the afterlife. These dances were filmed by Dawa Tsering Lepcha in his own village monastery in the Lepcha reserve of Dzongu, North Sikkim. This film is the second produced by the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology as part of its visual anthropology project. This training program for indigenous filmmakers aims to produce a documented video record of Sikkim's vanishing indigenous and Buddhist cultures. Its primary purpose is to record and preserve the meaning and proper performance of Sikkim's rituals within their social and economic context.