Festivals of India: Hemis Festival

India is a diverse nation. Everyday people are celebrating something in various parts of this huge nation. We know about many religious and cultural festivals but have very basic (in many cases none) knowledge about the art themed fairs & festivals celebrated across the country along with some traditional religious festivals which are pulling many tourists now a days.

This specific Travel series of mine concentrates on the calendar of those festivals which every Indian should proudly attend and enjoy!

Statue of Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava)
Statue of Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava)

When?

Every year this festival takes place in June or July. The two day celebration takes place on the 10th day of the Tibetan Lunar month. 2017 dates of the festival are 3rd and 4th July. 2018 dates of the festival are 23rd and 24th June. You can visit and stay in the region from May to September as it’s considered as the time of pleasant and sustainable weather.

Where?

Hemis Monastery is in the Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir. The largest monastery of Ladakh is just 45 km away from Leh. The official address is ‘Leh, Jammu & Kashmir, 194201’.

There are plenty of luxury hotels, home stays and resorts around the monastery. The monastery itself offers rooms to live for tourists. The festival is attended by locals as well as by tourists around the world. I would suggest you to pre-book a room around monastery to avoid the search for a roof after getting there. There are also many restaurants around the monastery which offer local and other Indian (especially North Indian) food. Even the monastery serves delicious food to its tourists along with traditional Butter Tea.

What is it exactly?

Hemis Monastery is considered as the wealthiest monastery in India. The festival is celebrated on the occasion of the birth of Guru Padmasambhava. Guru Padmasambhava is considered as a representative reincarnate of Buddha. In the festival the Chamms Lamas perform masked dance and sacred plays. The performances are glorified with cymbals, drums and long horns. Lamas dress in colorful brocades and masked attire while they perform the dance. The dance is supposed to be the symbol where of good defeating the evil, in other words Gods defeating the Demons. The dance drama is enhanced with different Mudras used by the dancers during their performances. The performers often use the masks representing different divinities of religious or historical importance.

The main festival activities take place in the rectangular courtyard in front of the main door of the monastery. The space is wide and open. There are two raised square platforms, three feet high with a sacred pole in the center. The raised dais is decorated with richly cushioned seats. There is also a finely painted small Tibetan table with the ceremonial items on it which include – cups full of holy water, uncooked rice, tormas made of dough and butter and incense sticks. 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. It’s amazing to see the local people gathering around in their traditional attire to enjoy the festival.

How to reach?

The easiest way to reach the monastery is by road from Leh. The road is beautiful and scenic. You can book a ride from Leh which is just 50 minutes away from your destination. On regular days monastery is open from 8am to 1pm and 2pm to 6pm. The entry fee is 100Rs. per person.

Hemis 4
The route map from Leh to Hemis Monastery

You can also plan a trek along with your visit to the monastery. There are number of treks you can do when you are in Ladakh. To decide which trek to take and other important details do visit the following site:

https://www.lehladakhindia.com/

 

PC.: Google

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