Cham dance at Dilli Haat, New Delhi

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Dancers, wearing long brocade robes and ornate black hats, perform the Shana Cham dance. This dance is performed to purify the ground and to chase away evil influences and is performed during the Tibetan religious ceremony.

The Black Hat dancers assume the appearance of yogis who have the power of killing and recreating life. In order to lead to the field of Buddha beings who cannot be led by peaceful means, they subdue these enemies of the Doctrine through their external compassionate anger but internally they have an accomplished peaceful mind. They have the appearance of Tantrists who are good to beings through terrifying but really accomplished acts such as killing and expelling bad spirits. By the wisdom of their knowledge, the five poisonous sins disappeared in the sphere of emptiness.

This dance can also be referred to as 'Gar' dance. It is derived from the different traditions of the Tantras (texts of Northern buddhism). They say that with the help of gods who have meditated deeply upon the mantras (sacred formulas), the 'Gar' which are the gestures of the dancers' hands are transformed into mudras (sacred mystic gestures) and their feet which pound the earth are forming a mandala (mystic geometric figure).

The Black Hat Dancers who perform the ritual for the earth firstly build a tantric mandala and then cut the demons into pieces. Thus, they take possession of the earth in order to further protect it and they dance the thunderbolt step to impress their power on it (The thunderbolt step is a particular step in the religious dances).

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