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Rejoicing at Hemis Festival in Ladakh

Written By: Akshatha Vinayak

Colourful Monasteries amidst the vast horizons of Ladakh's terrain makes for a perfect picture. The influence of Tibetan Buddhism reflects across this region. A visit to Ladakh is never complete without exploring Hemis Gompa. However, let us sink into the jubilant Hemis Gompa Carnival which is one of the grand annual festivals in Ladakh.

 Hemis Festival in Ladakh

Hemis Monastery
Photo Courtesy: Michael Douglas Bramwell

Hemis Gompa Festival is held in the 5th month of Tibetan Calender. According to that, the date keeps changing every year. Hemis Gompa Festival 2016 is taking place on July 14 and July 15. This festival marks the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava (an incarnation of Buddha).

Tourists who travel to Ladakh at this time should make it a point to witness Hemis Carnival. The whole monastery gets dressed up like a bride and locals from surrounding regions come here to take part in the fiesta.

 Hemis Festival in Ladakh

Mask Dance
Photo Courtesy: Amiya

All the events happen in the Hemis Monastery, which was built by Ladakhi King Sengge Namgyal in the 16th century. Every year this festival takes place for two days with all the fun and fervour. It is said that Guru Padmasambhava was the one who brought Buddhism to Nepal and it was also a period when Lamaism became victorious over Shamanism (two schools of thought in Buddhism). Hemis Gompa belongs to the Drukpa school of Buddhism.

 Hemis Festival in Ladakh

Another Performance During the Festival
Photo Courtesy: Madhav Pai

Hemis Festival is a major celebration that happens in the region. Locals dress up in the traditional attire and come to the monastery for the celebrations. Many cultural events are also held during the carnival in which Lamas perform several traditional art forms.

The festival begins in the early morning when the portrait of Guru Rinpoche is displayed on top of Gompa with the ceremonial drums. Devotees come here to give offerings to the Guru and take the blessings.Hemis Festival is one of the sacred festivals for the people of Ladakh.

 Hemis Festival in Ladakh

Shopping Lane Below the Monastery
Photo Courtesy: Kirsten

The courtyard of Hemis Monastery is used as the auditorium where several performances happen. Lamas perform the traditional mask dances and you can also witness the traditional music performances. The event looks grand and joyful with all the drums, horns and cymbals.

Every 12 years, a Thangkha (a large traditional painting) of a Buddhist deity is unveiled during the Hemis Festival. It is said that Hemis Gompa has one of the largest Thangkhas in the region.

 Hemis Festival in Ladakh

Art Forms
Photo Courtesy: Madhav Pai

The 2-day annual festival brightens up the whole region uniting everyone. So, don't miss out on taking part in this extravaganza if you happen visit Ladakh at this time!

Read more about: festivals ladakh

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