Celebrated by the Monpa Tribe of the Tawang Monastery, Arunachal Pradesh, Torgya festival is celebrated to pay homage to Lama Tsongkhapa, who was a Tibetan Buddhist Leader. The purpose of the festival is to spread peace and prosperity and omit the feeling of hatred and malice.
According to the Buddhist calendar, the dates of this festival are from 28th to 30th in the month of Dawachukchipa which means between January 10 and 12 of the Gregorian calendar.
This fun festival starts with text recitation and Chham dance wearing a warrior outfit, Arpu by the Lamas who are the Buddhist spiritual leaders. The colourful 3-day festival becomes more alluring when Lamas dance wearing different costumes and animal-like masks. While doing so they also perform on some soulful music with drums and cymbals.
Every third year, the festival is organized on a broader level and goes by the name Dungyur Festival. During the Dungyur Festival, Dalai Lama especially offers blessings to other lamas by sending Feb Jum which is a holy item to be used in rituals.
Major Attractions of Torgya Monastery Festival
1. The First Day of the Festival. Known as Torgya, on this day, lamas worship a 3-feet tall and 2-feet wide effigy that is created by 14 lamas and is crafted in 16 days before the festival. During this time monks chant verses from the scriptures.
There are four ingredients - ghee, barley, milk, and molasses - that are used to create this statue, which is called Torma. Apart from Torma, Mechang is also built with dry leaves of bamboo and erected in the shape of a temple. The head of the lamas then performs a ritual wherein Mechang is burnt.
2. Torma Procession. During the procession, the lamas, wearing bells around the waist, bring out the Torma along with two other masked lamas wearing male and female yak masks. These two lamas are called Choige Yap-Yum and are considered as servants of Lama Tsongkapa. By carrying Torma, the lamas head towards burning the Mechang.
After reaching the location, the head of lamas performs Sangonna wherein they carry the Torma and put it in the burning Mechang. Post performing the ritual, they go back to the monastery. This procession is performed with great pomp and show.
3. Wang - The Final-Day Festival. The last day is performed as Wang which starts with making Tseril which is a type of sweet made by barley, sugar, and molasses. After that, the head of lamas perform prayers and then distribute the Tseril among other lamas.
They also drink a local beer named Tse-Chang to wrap the festival on a fun note. Also, the Head Lama gives blessings (also known as Tse-Boom) to other lamas by touching their heads.
Torgya Monastery Festival Clothes and Dance
The most important dance type here is the Chham Dance. In fact, it can definitely be said that monastery festivals in Arunachal Pradesh are incomplete without the Chham Dance.
The monks perform the traditional Chham dance wearing robes and various animal-like masks in the courtyard of the monastery. During the dance performance, they disguise themselves as divine Buddhist characters. The dance festival is celebrated for three consecutive days.
How to Reach
Torgya Monastery Festival is celebrated at the beautiful Tawang Monastery which is located in the town of Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh. The flawless beauty of this snow-capped town will make you forget all your worries and relax in the lap of nature.
Here, people mostly speak in the Tibetan language. The town is approximately 2,306, 3,129, 1,400, and 3,356 km away from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Banglore in that order.
By Air. From Tawang, the nearest airport is Tezpur Airport aka Salonibari Airport which is situated at a distance of 387 kilometres. The airport majorly connects two cities of India namely Kolkata and Guwahati.
You can take a flight to the international airport of Guwahati also which is known as Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport. It is 480 kilometres from the town and is well-connected to the major cities of India and abroad.
By Road. Although road journey to Tawang can be a bit tiring, the beauty you would find on your way would certainly make all the driving worth it. The biggest city near Tawang is Guwahati which is 156 km if you take NH13.
The roadways of Arunachal Pradesh are well-connected to the neighbouring cities in and around it and to reach here, there are frequent buses, cabs, and taxis run by public transport.
By Rail. The nearest railway station to Tawang is Rangapara Railway Station in Thakurbari, Assam. It is at a distance of 383 kilometres from Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh. There is only one train named Arunachal Exp that connects Delhi to Rangapara, hence you will have to reach the Indian capital first if you are thinking of visiting Tawang by railways.
Once you reach the station, you will require to take a bus or taxi to reach the town which will take another 10 hours.