Lhayee Lugar

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Preservation and promotion of our Bhutanese Culture is one of the four pillars that constitute the development philosophy of Gross National Happiness propounded by His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck , the Fourth King of Bhutan. Preservation and promotion of traditional values, crafts, artists’ sensibility, songs, dances and music add to the uniqueness to our age old cultural heritage. The Royal Academy of Performing Arts is the oldest institute in the Kingdom aiming at preserving and promoting Bhutan’s performing arts, especially songs, music and mask dances. Today, many private musical entertainment troupes have come up in the country that are all working in line with the policy of preserving and promoting our age old cultural heritage.

One such troupe is LHAYEE LUGAR (which literally translates to Dancers of Heaven), which is one of the oldest centers registered and certified by the Royal Government of Bhutan. It is located in the heart of the Thimphu city and its office is housed in the Youth Development Fund Complex.

Comprising of professional singers, dancers and musicians, Lhayee Lugar aims at keeping the traditional songs, dances, music and Bhutanese choreography alive. This troupe has ventured in composing both traditional and modern music and coming up with different choreography for many traditional songs. Moreover, Lhayee Luagr has started performing at Tshechus (religious festival), House Consecration, Official Programs, Social and National Events, International Events and Special Program for Tourists. Lhayee Lugar is reputed to have performed in the international programs in Germany, Singapore, France, Japan, Austria, Estonia, Taiwan and India. Lhayee Lugar is working in partnership with Simply Bhutan and assures quality and entertaining cultural performances.

Cultural Show - Program List

Bhutanese music mirrors Bhutanese culture and generally transmits social values. There are broadly two kinds of Bhutanese music: traditional and modern. Traditional music includes Boedra and Zhungdra and a spectrum of sub-genres ranging from folk to religious songs and music. Some genres of traditional Bhutanese music intertwine vocals, instrumentation and theatre and dance, while others are mainly vocal or instrumentation. Bhutanese folk music is greatly influenced by Buddhist teachings and practices. The themes are typically religious in nature, highlighting the teachings of the Buddha, or the deeds and accomplishments of great Buddhist masters. Masked dance or Chham in Bhutan having originated in 8th century is one of the most conspicuous religious musical sub-genres. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel and Tertoen Pema Lingpa are credited for introducing many masked dances into Bhutanese traditions. Performed during the religious festivals called Tshechus the dance serves to bring enlightenment for onlookers, while also acting ritual purification to ward off the evil. People watch masked dances to receive blessings and to reap spiritual merits.

  1. JOENPA LEGSO (Welcome dance)

   This boedra folk dance is performed first in the program to welcome the guests and audience.This dance is also performed to wish everybody good luck and as benediction for success of the entire program.

2. ZHUNGDRA (Classical Dance)

   This dance is one of the oldest classical dances performed mostly in the Dzongs (Fortress) and Monasteries. It is usually performed by women. Zhungdra was developed in the 17th century and is mainly associated with the folk music of the western region of the country.  This dance was offered in the honour of great Zhabdrung Rinpoche. Zhungdra is characterized by the use of extended vocal tones in complex patterns which slowly decorate a relatively simple instrumental melody. Although considered secular, the lyrics of Zhungdra songs often tell Buddhist allegories. Untrained singers, even those with natural singing ability, typically find it challenging to sing Zhungdra.

3. DRAMETSE NGA CHHAM (Religious Mask Dance)

This masked dance is performed with drums and is one of the most popular masked dances which was first performed in the    Eastern Bhutan in a place called Drametse. It was introduced in Drametse in the 16th century by Khedrub Kunga Wangpo, the son of Terton Pema Lingpa.This dance was offered in the honour of great Guru Padmasamvhawa. This dance is said to increase peaceful activity for both the performers and spectators. Merely seeing this dance in which performers don peaceful masks will remove obstacles and fulfill one’s wishes. This dance is also designated as the Art under the World Heritage Preservation of UNESCO.

4.  LAYAB DANCE (Dance of Highlanders)

This dance originated in Laya, a semi-nomadic village in the North Western Bhutan, located at the altitude of 3,840m. Layabs are semi-nomadic yak herders. Their costumes, tents and ropes are made out of yak hair. They sell their highland products like dried cheese, hide, and incense, and take back

   rice, salt, sugar and oil among others. Layabs are very keen in preserving their tradition. They

   perform this dance to appease their local deities in supplication for protection from evil forces and for

   having greener pasture for their highland cattle.

5.NGAGING CHHAM (Religious Mask Dance)   

This mask dance was introduced by Rinzin Pema Lingpa at Zangdo Pelri (heavenly abode of Guru Rinpoche) to subdue the evil forces that worked against the Dharma, thus impending peace and tranquility on this Earth. Obviously the dance is performed in order to celebrate the victory of good over evil. The blue mask represents the true nature of our pure mind which is stainless. The drum represents the celebration of victory over evil spirit and brings peace and happiness. When this particular dance is performed, the dancers meditate on the power of compassion which is the altruistic mind that wishes for happiness of all sentient beings, and that’s why each beat brings liberation to all who are present during this dance and help to remove suffering. In Mahayana Buddhist tradition, drum is considered as the drum of dharma which liberates all from suffering just through the action of hearing its sounda

6.DRAM-NYEN DANCE (Instrument Lute Dance

The Drangyen, or Bhutanese Lute, is the oldest and most famous instrument from Bhutan played by Lhamo Yangchenma, Goddess of music. It is said that this very instrument was given to the world by her. Therefore, it is considered very sacred instrument. Some Drangyens have embedded small altar of Lhamo Yangchenma. With its distinctive Chusin shaped head (a sea monster designed to scare away any evil spirits attracted to its beautiful music). The Dra means “melody” and Ngyen means “listen”, so Drangyen literally means “listen to the melody”. The Drangyen is the main instrument used to accompany songs in Bhutan. Historian estimate that the Drangyen dates back to 8th century A.D. when the great saint Guru Rinpochhe brought Buddhism to Bhutan. The Guardian Deity of the East, Sharchog Gyelp, Yulkhorsung, also plays Drangyen and he is the lord of celestial musicians. He often holds a Drangyen so that he can communicate without causing the destruction that would follow from using his fearsomely powerful voice. The five dancers represent the five Dakinis converging from four cardinal directions and one from centre in dancing performance to pay respect to Lhamo Yangche

7.DHAZHEY (Traditional Archery Game Demonstration)

Archery is the National Game of Bhutan. It is not just a game for Bhutanese, it’s more than that. It is a very important social event that brings family, friends and communities together. It enables social bondage and enhances community vitality. Deity invocation with wine oblation ceremony is conducted before the game begins. The game is played with benediction for timely rainfall, better harvest, peace and harmony in the societies. Archery is also played with prayer for the long life of His Majesty the King, wellbeing of all the Bhutanese people and the people around the world. It is usually played by men, but women also take part to add colours to the carnival. Women sing and dance to support their own team and to distract the opponent team. They serve wine to archers and entertain the spectators. This fashion of playing archery was introduced in 17th century when archery matches were played between the attendants of Zhabdrung Rinpoche and the people of Lingshi. We play archery in the same fashion even to these days.  The archery range would be normally 140 meters long.

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8.OM SANGLA MANI (Earth Ramming Dance)

This dance is the depiction of method of traditional house construction, especially in the western part of the country. With the system of labour exchange communities come together to build houses for each other. They use the natural materials, stone and red earth, to construct houses by ramming the earth. Being a Buddhist country, we pray for the well-being of the numerous insects that get crushed during the ramming of the earth. Since the construction takes months, the workers sing and perform the ramming dance to make the work interesting. They sing many religious songs and one such song is the Om Sangla Mani, which is the prayer song for the well-being of the souls of insects killed during the construction.

9.BHUMTHAP DANCE (Dance from Central Bhutan)

   Bumthang is a district in the north-central region of Bhutan, and due to the great number of sacred sites there, it is often referred to as the country’s spiritual heartland and is one of the historic districts. The famous Nyingma saint Pema Lingpa was born in the region and many other famous Buddhist yogis lived and practiced there. Bumthang is also famous for its brightly colored and distinctive woven woolen garments called Yathra. This Dance originated from Bumthang and performed in respect of the land and to the great saint Guru Rinpoche. This dance depicts different cultural aspects of the people of Bumthang and to show the method of weaving their cloth from the woolen yarn. This song expresses with pride the beauty of Bumthang Valley blessed by Guru Rinpoche where happiness flourishe

10.MERAK SAKTEN  DANCE (Semi-Nomadic People Dance)

Merak Sakten is a place located above 3000m from the sea level. They are semi-nomadic yak herders with a unique and fascinating culture in the world. They speak a different dialect, have their own deities and wear a unique style of dress. They wear headgear made of yak-hair with five tentacles designed to drain away the rain water. This song and dance originated in Merak, a nomadic village in the Northern Bhutan and they perform this dance to pay homage to their local deity Ama Jomo.

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11.WANGZHEY (Dance of Thimphu Valley performed by men)

The Wangzhey is a unique song and dance performed by the men of Wang region in the Thimphu valley. This dance is one of the oldest dances which originated in 17th century. This dance contains the elements of both classical and quick-stepped dances. This particular dance was first performed for the Zhabdrung, the founder of Bhutan. The eight section of Wang are very old communities of western Bhutan The dance is performed by men wearing the kilt like lower garment over the gho and also a ring on the head. The song and dance is composed of many chapters and often performed by the men of Wang. Like most other Zheys, the lyrics of Wangzhey dwell on religious topics and is performed only during formal public and official occasions and not during all festive events.

12.PA CHHAM (religious dance of hero performed without mask)

 Dance of pawos( heros). This dance is accompanied by sweet melodies and leads believers of human world into presence of Guru Rinpoche. This dance is usually performed during invocation ceremony and also to welcome important guests. During the supplication prayer, this dance is performed inside prayer halls and temples as a gesture to invoke and welcome Guru Rinpoche and his entourage

13.THRUNG THRUNG KARM (Traditional folk dance)

    This dance is dedicated to advocacy of protection and conservation of Black Necked Crane (The Birds of Heaven). Bhutan has several hotspots that serve as the winter habitat for these magnificent birds. During the Black Necked Crane Festival, this dance is presented with glamour to create awareness for the protection of these very special and endangered birds.

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14.KELWA ZANGPO DHUGO (Traditional folk dance)

This dance is usually performed during the auspicious moment of celebration of important events. This song symbolizes the happiness acquired by the people because of their accumulation of merit and virtuous acts. It is also performed in supplication of good deed of the people and successful achievement of every endeavour for the happiness of the people. Through this dance we express our fortune to be born as Bhutanese and pay our tribute to His Majesty the King and the Royal Government of Bhutan for their selfless and benevolent service to the nation.

15.GUNGTEY SERGI METO (Dance with modern beat)

This dance is performed by both male and female with the modern beat. The dance depicts the human mentality which emphasizes about good nature and humility. A person’s integrity can only be built and developed by the person’s own desire and willingness, and nobody other than oneself can ever spoil this profound human value.

16.DURDAG CHHAM (Dance of the Lords of Cremation Grounds)

         The dance of the Lords of cremation grounds is performed by four dancers wearing skull masks who depict the Lords Avalokiteshvara and Buddha Vajraheruka. The white costume symbolizes the purity and detachment of these Lords to physical forms and appearances. These Lords dwell in cremation grounds to help liberate the spirits of the deceased from this world and transit to the after world. The dancers perform back-bends to call upon the earth deity to witness their power to subdue the spirits. They also shake their hands in the air and stamp their feet on the ground in the act of summoning and subjugating the dead spirits. This dance is believed to help liberate any negative spirits and allows these spirits to move into the pure-land.

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17.TASHI LABAY (Auspicious Farewell dance)

 Tashi Leybey is performed at the end of every program as ceremonial concluding dance. This dance is performed to wish good luck to each other and pray for happiness and wellbeing of all the sentient beings. The dancers basically thank each other for this happy and auspicious meeting and hereafter pray and wish for many similar meetings in future. This dance is performed with very simple steps and our esteemed guests are cordially invited to join the dance.

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We perform at Tshechus,House Consecration, Promotion Parties, Official Programs, Social and National Events, International Events and Special Cultural Show for Tourists.We assure quality and most entertaining Cultural shows.

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