The Hemis festival is one of the biggest and the most famous religious festivals of Ladakh and is an attraction for both the tourist and the local people. The festival of Hemis is a colorful two-day affair that falls on the 10th day (called Tse-Chu in the local language) of the Tibetan lunar month. This festival is a celebration of the birth anniversary of spiritual leader Padmasambhava, the founder of Tibet Tantric Buddhism. The main venue and stage for this festival is the courtyard of Hemis Gompa-the biggest Buddhist monastery in Ladakh.
The Monastery of Hemis Jangchub Choling:
Situated 40 km from Leh, this monastery is the principal, richest, loveliest and renowned gompa of Ladakh. Hemis was constructed in 1630 all through the rule of Sengge Namgyal, a memorable sovereign of Ladakh. It throve under the Namgyal progeny for ages as the royalty blessed the Drugpa sect, which administered the monastery. It is popular because of the major annual celebration organized here in summer. The leading Thanka in Ladakh is also present here that unfolds itself once in a period of 12 years.
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The carnival preparations:
The head priest directs the festival. The local people are noticed being transformed and adorned in their premium conventional apparels for the function. Priests called ‘chams’ carry out impressive masquerades yet revered plays in the company of long horns, drums, and cymbals played by monks. The entertainers wear detailed and peculiar vivid brocade dresses and facade and outfits and intensely tinted masks. These masks are the most fundamental component of the dance. The music is typically interposed with the resonance of unwieldy trumpets, cymbals, and drums.
The dance movements are slow, and the expressions grotesque. Each multihued mask represents an unusual statue of the myth that’s being exhibited. The famous Padmasambhava dance, which illustrates the subjugation of the Ruta demons, incorporates Yama — the God of demise, and the black-hatted wizard, Guru Orakpo — the conqueror of all fiends.
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Unique exhibition every 12 years:
This pulsating fiesta takes a promising turn, when the two-storey high ‘Thanka’ portraying Padmasambhava puts on a show at an interval of every 12 years in the Tibetan calender. This celebrated ‘Thanka’, opulently embellished with pearls and semi-precious stones, was last exhibited in the revelries of the year 2004. A multicolored fair, demonstrating several stunning handiworks, is the special focal point of the celebration.
The festival dates and duration:
This festival falls in the 5th month of Tibetan calendar and is in the month of June or the first half of July. The fanfare lasts for 2-3 days.
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