When: 26th – 27th June 2016
Where: Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir
Ladakh is immersed in festivities of one kind or the other all throughout the month of June, which is quite evident as the name of Ladakh has appeared for the third time on this list. Coincidence or not, it is a place to be reckoned with during this month. The festival of Hemis, some believe, is a predominantly religious affair. But there is more to it than meets the eye at the first instance. The epicenter of the festivities is thelargest Buddhist monastery in Ladakh. The lamas from the local community masquerade as artistes and perform to indigenous folk music.Elaborate dance rituals along with soulful music occupy every quarter of the place, as the visitor is sure to be spellbound by the blend of spirituality and festive fervor.
Hemis Monastery is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery (gompa) of the Drukpa Lineage, located in Hemis, Ladakh, India. Situated 45 km from Leh, the monastery was re-established in 1672 by the Ladakhi king Sengge Namgyal. The annual Hemis festival is held here in early June.
The Hemis Festival is dedicated to Lord Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) venerated as the Dance Performance at Hemis Monastery representative reincarnate of Buddha. He is believed to have been born on the 10th day of the fifth month of the Monkey year as predicted by the Buddha Shakyamuni. It is also believed that his life mission was, and remains, to improve the spiritual condition of all living beings. And so on this day, which comes once in a cycle of 12 years, Hemis observes a major extravaganza in his memory. The observance of these sacred rituals is believed to give spiritual strength and good health. The Hemis festival takes place in the rectangular courtyard in front of the main door of the monastery. The space is wide and open save two raised square platforms, three feet high with a sacred pole in the center. A raised dais with a richly cushioned seat with a finely painted small Tibetan table is placed with the ceremonial items – cups full of holy water, uncooked rice, tormas made of dough and butter and incense sticks. A number of musicians play the traditional music with four pairs of cymbals, large-pan drums, small trumpets and large size wind instruments. Next to them, a small space is assigned for the lamas to sit.
The ceremonies begin with an early morning ritual atop the Gompa where, to the beat of drums and the resounding clash of cymbals and the spiritual wail of pipes, the portrait of “Dadmokarpo” or “Rygyalsras Rinpoche” is then ceremoniously put on display for all to admire and worship.
The most esoteric of festivities are the mystic mask dances. The Mask Dances of Ladakh are referred collectively as chams Performance. Chams performance is essentially a part ofTantric tradition, performed only in those gompas which follow the Tantric Vajrayana teachings and the monks perform tantric worship.