Hemis festival, Ladakh
June - July
Courtyard, Hemis monastery
The celebration of Guru Padmasambhava's
victory over evil spirits. Chhams, and traditional mask dances which are
performed by the Lama's of the monastery.
Hemis monastery, the biggest, richest and the most important monastery in
Ladakh is the venue of the world famous Hemis festival. It is settled a
little off the main Leh-Manali road, almost 49 km to south of Leh. It was
established on 17th century by the Ladakhi Dharma king and ever since it is
enjoying the patronage of the royal family.
Hemis festival generally held on the tenth and eleventh day of the fifth
Tibetan lunar month. These two days are celebrated as the public holidays by
the local government. This festival celebrates Guru Padmasambhava's
victorious activities over the evil forces. This heritage festival is a
integral part of the native People's life. This summer timed festival
attracts foreign tourist in a huge amount due to its grandeur and luster and
they also took part in this event dressed in the local traditional dresses.
Ladakh government draws big bucks out of the tourism during this festival.
The first day festival begins at 10 am in the ceremonies in the yard of the
monastery. Glorious masked dances and auspicious plays by the lamas which
are also known as the Chhams are performed around the flag pole.
These activities are performed with the accompany of cymbals,drums, and long
horns. This masks which are worn by the lamas represent various guardian
divinities of Buddhism. Lamas recites various hymns on the various episodes
of the Chhams.
A jazzy fair, manifesting some beautiful handicrafts of Ladakhi tradition,
is the special highlight of the festival.
The 'devil dances' during this fair is an important factor in the social
entertainment of the Ladakhis. The sharp song-and-dance mirth, created by
these mask dances, which invariably depict the victory of the right over
evil. After it consumption of huge bowls of 'chang', Ladakh's own country
liquor also an added attraction to the the tourist. Even reaching there is
not an issue now a days by car, Hemis is an easy day trip from Leh . By bus,
services are only frequent during the festival.