On the lunar calendar every January 30 and February 1, the Tibetan Buddhist ceremony called “Buza Dancing” is held at Yong He Gong Lama Temple.
The word ‘buza’ comes from the Mongolian language, which in English translates to the “beating of the devils”
Centuries ago Yong He Gong was the living place of Yong Zheng before he became the 3rd emperor of the Qing dynasty. After that Yong He Gong was rebuilt becoming an important religious place for Tibetan Buddhism in Beijing and greater China.
At the beginning of every year, the Qing emperors would run the ceremony by themselves to keep the devils away and pray for peace in the coming year, which led to the “Beating of the devils” becoming a big event after the spring festival.
In the Falun Hall, reading Buddhist scriptures signifies the beginning of the ceremony. It is presided over by Tubudan, the master of Yong He Gong, who is over 80 years old.
A skull image of a demon made from rice emerges under the escort of the lamas to the Yonghe Gate with drums and music leading the procession.
The stage is then set in front of the Yonghe Gate. Tubudan along with lamas playing drums sits under three silk paintings of the Buddhist Thangka.
The other lamas are covered with images of trumpet-shells, skulls, ox-heads, and deer acting on the stage, performing the process of catching and beating the devils.
Their clothes today still contain a deep resemblance to that of the Qing dynasty. The act of the dance is simple, but solemn in atmosphere, rich in content and vivid in appearance.
After the performance on the stage, the climax of the ceremony approaches. Lamas carrying the demon go through Zhaotai Gate and enter Pailou Yard in the south end of the Palace, where dry wood is prepared and the demon is to be thrown into the fire after the ritual of reading aloud Buddhist scriptures is performed.
After 2 hours of dancing, then the devil is eliminated by fire. Later participants in the ceremony then feast taking in the tributes and receiving the prayers for a peaceful new year.
On the next day, lamas get up early for the last item of the ‘beating of the devils’, called Raosi . It starts at around eight o’clock in the morning. A colorful golden image of the Buddha Milefuo is carried to circle the temple, searching every direction to see if there are any ghosts left.
Though not as royal and grand as in the Qing dynasty, the ‘beating of the devils’ is still a mysterious religious ceremony which attracts people from all around the world, not only Buddhists, who join and catch the atmosphere of driving the devils away from everyone’s mind, cleaning one’s soul and heart.