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There is a time when the cold deserts of Ladakh wake up to complete entertainment and vibrant moments of the year that is during the renowned Hemis Festival. It is dedicated to Lord Padmasambhava or popularly known as Guru Rinpoche. The Dance Festival is world famous representing the reincarnation of Buddha.
On the birth day of Rinpoche that is on the 10th day of the fifth month in the Monkey year, the festival happens and that day is the most prestigious and precious one for the people in Hemis Monastery. With an early morning ritual, the festival begins, the echoed sound of the drums, the cymbals and the pipes make the declaration. The monks in the monastery believe that following the festival yearly would help them given more spiritual strength and health.
The wide rectangular courtyard in front of the main door of the monastery is the witness of the complete festival. There are two raised square platforms which are of three feet height along with a sacred pole at the exact centre. An elevated dais where a cushioned seat will be placed with a small table that has the ceremonial items like holy water, uncooked rice, tormas made of dough and butter and some incense sticks. As the rituals progress, a number of musicians will play the traditional music with cymbals, large pan drums, trumpets and wind instruments. Next to them, you can see the space provided for the current lamas to be seated.
The Cham Dance, the major event is a slow paced dance and has grotesque expressions aplenty. The dancers wear multihued masks which presents the unusual image of the myth existing.
Location: It happens at Hemis Monastery, 40 kms away from Leh town.
When to go: After the tough winter the festivities start and the dates would be fluctuating every year. But usually it falls somewhere in the month between June and August.
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