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Saturday, 2 July 2016

Hemis festival in Ladakh (Northern India)

Photo: Hemis Monastery
Hemis Festival in Ladakh in northern India is held every year however every 12 years during Tibetan Year of the Monkey this festival is very auspicious as they celebrate the life of Guru Padamasambhava and Naropa. The birth of Lord Padmasambhava also known Guru Rimpoche is the spiritual leader who introduced Buddhism in the Himalayan Kingdom in early 8th Century.

During this special festival held every twelve year the monks at Hemis monastery unfurl a 12 metre high Thangka and display the holy 6 bones ornament from Naropa. There are dances and plays by masked Lamas representing the good prevailing over evil. The participants of the spellbinding performance are dressed in vibrant costumes and bright masks.

In the court yard of the monastery there is a raised platform with cushioned seats and a finely painted Tibetan table with the ceremonial items such as cups of holy water, rice, tormas made of dough and butter and incense. Musicians play with cymbals, drums, small trumpets and next to them the lamas sit and pray.

Photo: Hemis Monastery
At Hemis Festival 2016 will be a large gathering of Drukpa teachers. Drukpa is a lineage or school of Tibetan Buddhism often called “red-hat-sect”. The Drukpa lineage is prominent in Kham (eastern Tibet), Ladakh and Bhutan. Drukpa in Bhutan has a great significance as it is the dominant school and state religion. Outside the monastery there will be many stalls selling food and handicrafts with many travellers enjoying the festivities.

Please note the date of Hemis Festival in 2016 has been delayed from July 14th to September in order to avoid a clash of dates with the visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Ladakh over the summer.

The Mountain Company is organising our classic Ladakh Sky Trail GHT trek in mid August led by Almas Khan, please get in touch if you would like to join this group.

Roland Hunter

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