Gracham is a Tibetan Buddhist sacred Meditation Dance. It is based on "Yeshe Ngam-Log" an early Indian Buddhist text during the time of Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche in Tibetan. Dancers meditate on Buddhichitta and Dorji Phurba before they put on the elaborate costumes.
Black hat has three sections; the fur trimmed brim symbolize the
Highest spiritual world of the formless realms (Arupa Dhatu); the head covering, symbolize the realm of spiritual and Meditation form(Rupa Dhatu); The ornament on the top symbolizes the desire realms of human and celestial beings (Kama Dhatu). The Black hat configurations are in reverse order of the three realms. The ornamentation at the top of the black hat, in Tantrika, symbolizes a practice that does not discard the worldly factors that cause cyclic existence to Samsara, rather employ them to realize the ultimate nature of reality and final deliverance.
The Dorji Phurba dance has two parts. First part begins with the consecration of the surroundings and its natural world-Dharmadhatu. They are followed by four fierce masked emanations of Dorji Phurba, two black males and two white females. The power of their wrathful actions removes obstacles and prepares a holy space for Mandala.
The second part of the Dorji Phurba dance is the method for removing outer and inner peel of ignorance (Avidya) that has enclosed the true nature of mind by Wisdom and Method ( emptiness of self existence nature of reality and dependency of all phenomena). Dancers chant the mantra of Dorji Phurba. Thus negative karma of all sentient beings are removed and freed from Samsara.
Tenth day of the Tibetan New Year is the culmination of celebration of Padmasambhava's birthday. Dance begins with the Protection-wheel who is followed by Dakas and Dakanis. Dancers wear a brass mask with Wisdom Eye at the center of the forehead. They chant the Vajra Mantra which unlocks the gate of body, speech and mind of all sentient beings to receive the blessing of the Buddhas in ten directions.
Dance by Padmasambhava and his eight emanations is the main event of the ritual. It begins with procession of musicians and Lamas who offer prayers and invocations of Padmasambhava, all lineages, the Buddhas in the ten directions and the Boddhisattvas. Also the Yidams, Dakas and Dakinis to bless all sentient being with recitation of "OM AH HUNG VAJRA GURU PADMA SIDDHI HUNG".
Padmasambhava along with his eight emanations, two consorts, chief disciple etc. joins the dance group and occupies their respective seat. Soon after, two Yogis- male and a female- join the chorus to offer Mandala of body, speech and mind to Padmasambhava and his entourage. As a mark of consent each emanation and Padamasamhhava performs wrathful and peaceful posture. Musicians appear once again and lead away all the assemblage to the temple which signifies that Buddha will remain in Samsara until the liberation of all sentient beings is complete.
On eleventh day, Black-Hat Dance known as Guru Drag-po is performed with a Bow and an Arrow representing relative and ultimate truth. Four masked skeletons (masters of cemetery) joins the dance to represent pure awareness of mind. A triangular box, symbolizes the three aspects of Shunyata (Emptiness), which contains a clay figurine representing self, is placed in front of the Black-Hat dancer-Tantric master.
Four female guards of Mandala, holding implements, dance who represents the four stages of meditation. Black Crow and yellow Owl joins the dance to remove delusion –Avidya.
Performance concludes with Stag dance symbolizing knowledge. Stag eats away the “self” -clay figurine- thus “self” is devoid of the three poisons; attachment, hatred and delusion.
The Great Sadhana of Padmasambhava
This Sadhana must be performed every once in a twelve years time.
At dusk, "Queen Who Conquers All" dance to drive away the Mara and its various forms from clouding the true nature of mind. Different scouts of Mara probes the mind of Yogi with various temptations. These include, predatory beasts, deceitful deities, apologetic forms and shapes camouflage as devotees. To cut through deceitful scouts of Mara is by exercising compassion and wisdom – without judgment.
Queen is escorted by other red masked dancers who are the emanations of Yeshi Tsogyal. The two drummers are the embodiment of the Queen herself who circles and protects the devotees.