No authentic texts have been found thus far regarding the origin of the Korphu religious festival, but according to Chakhar Lam Dorji, Korphu Drup was introduced with the Peling religious dance by Pema Lingpa and Trulku Chogden Gonpo in the 16th century, using Bumthang’s Jampa Lhakhang and Nabji Drup as models. There is one distinction, however. During Korphu Drup, religious dances of the Peling tradition are performed, whereas at Nabji Drup religious dances of the Dorling tradition are performed.
Because Korphu Drup is in a remote location, various original practices could not be preserved. There was one man, however, who donated his paddy fields for Korphu Drup, and reintroduced the old practices by extending the number of ritual days and bringing back the traditional religious dances. Lama Phuntshok (exact dates unknown, but likely late 20th century) indeed devoted his life to the conservation and improvement of Korphu Drup and religion in the village.
Some seniors report that Korphu Drup had already been extended before Lama Phuntshok’s time, however, as in the past there had been a day long Drup during which some Peling religious dances were performed. It is possible that Lama Phuntshok mainly facilitated the preservation and expansion of Korphu Drup and that it was introduced by Pema Lingpa and Trulku Chogden Gonpo in the 16th century.
Lama Phuntshok’s achievements were made possible by the fact that he was from the Tamshing Choeje family from Bumthang and was therefore a descendent of Pema Lingpa. It was thus his responsibility to preserve the spiritual performances of the Peling lineage. For many years he travelled from Bumthang to Korphu in order to supervise and lead the Drup ceremony.
It is mainly lay practitioners (gomchen) who perform the ritual and celebrate the Drup from the 15th–19th days of the 11th month of the Bhutanese calendar. Villagers believe that by the grace of the local deities, this ceremony will allay disasters and epidemics in their village and indeed in all of Bhutan. Moreover, the village will be blessed with abundant wealth and bountiful crops, and there will be peace and harmony in the country.
Festivals that resemble Korphu Drup are celebrated all over central and eastern Bhutan in different forms and under different names. However, only in Jampa Lhakhang, Nabji, and Korphu Lhakhangs are they celebrated under the name of Drup.