Gonkhan is a room in a monastery which is generally dark and has mysterious
fittings providing an atmosphere for the lamas to evoke or propitiate the terrifying gods
resting on a pedestal just opposite the entrance, All sorts of masks, weapons, dresses and
ritual objects are generally stored in the gonkhan and as the atmosphere is charged with
an air of fear, women are not allowed here.
A big drum with one leg is seen hanging with
the help of two ropes in between the two pillars and the lama beats itrhythmically with a
curved stick while murmuring -his recitations in a deep guttural voice. The resident lamas
do daily -worship invoking fierce deities. Besides the grotesquely appearing masks, one
among various equipment that create a sense of terror, is the bowl, made of human skull
used for offering blood, wine or water to the deities and also for their drinking by the
A sacred masked dance locally known as chham is
done only by the lamas in the monasteries before a large concourse of spectators on some
festive occasion. Since masks are more or less akin to those of the devils, it is also
called devil dance. The lamas put on embroidered and brocaded robes of gorgeous colors and
the heads are covered with masks made of wood or papier-mache with a thin coat of plaster.
These Masks are prepared by the lamas themselves and like the Tibetan paintings and
sculptures know no deviation from what the rules and norms precisely lay down. These
precious robes and masks are the property of the monastery and these are kept carefully
stored in a room under the charge of a kardar (keeper).