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Ngakpa Lama Dances in Dolpo, Nepal

October 27, 2012

Many people think that to be Buddhist one must live as a monastic, which is not historically accurate. In the Tibetan tradition of Buddhism, there were monastic practitioners, lay practitioners and of course the yogis.

I shot the video below at the Ribo Bumpa Festival Festival in the Dho-Tarap Valley of Dolpo in 2011.  The dancers are all lay and yogi tantric practitioners, local to the Dolpo region.

Instead of shaved heads and red robes, you can see the lamas with their long hair and white and red chubas.  Each of these lamas has a wife and children and responsibilities to the community such as farming and herding, in addition to their religious role in society as lamas.

These house-holder lamas and yogis are called Ngakpa, in Tibetan.(སྔགས་པ) and may be male or female (female, Ngakma) practitioners of the Vajrayana school of Tibetan Buddhism.

The rare dance performed in this video is the dance you would see at a funeral of a local who recently died.  The lamas with their dance, song, horns and drums, are calling in the vultures for ‘sky burial.’

Ngakpa Lama Dancing

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