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Home :: India Destination :: Jammu & Kashmir :: Hemis Festival
Hemis Festival
Overview
Hemis Gompa, LehIndia happens to be an eclectic mix of countless castes and creeds. It was here that Buddhism, which has millions of adherents round the globe, took birth and reached far across to countries like Japan, China, Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Combodia, Greece, Egypt and Laos among others. Today, the country celebrates a number of Buddhist festivals that are a reflection of the philosophy (of life) that this system of beliefs rests on. The Hemis Festival (Ladakh) is an important festival of the Buddhists and a major draw for tourists and pilgrims alike.

Venue & Time of Celebration
The Hemis Festival is organised at Ladakh in the northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is actually the courtyard of the Hemis Gompa where all the rituals and celebrations take place. The festival falls in the last week of June, on the tenth day of the lunar month in the Tibetan calendar.


Religious Ceremonies
The festival commemorates the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava and continues for two consecutive days. As the celebrations begin in the courtyard of the Hemis Monastery, the Lamas appear on the scene to perform mask dances and to enact sacred plays. They continue with their rhythmic movements to the accompaniment of the melodious music emanating from the cymbals and drums. The dances performed by the lamas represent the victory of good over evil.

Hemis FestivalsThere's a legend behind the dance performance of the lamas. It says that Guru Padmasambhava, the founder of the Tibetan Buddhism, contended with the demons for the security of the local people. And the dance performance by the lamas records the very legend. The dance show conclude with the destruction of an effigy made of dough. The figure, that represents evil, is destroyed by the leader of the Black Hat dancers. As the annihilated figure gets dispersed in four directions, the head lama presides over the event.

After it all begins the social entertainment of the locals. People, including the elderly and the young, join in the merrymaking. A major draw for tourists here is the fair where they can pick out some interesting curios, souvenirs and other items of art and craft. Exhibitors gather with valuable pieces of handicrafts from all over Ladakh area.

Another interesting part of the festivities is the time when the very exclusive thangka of the Hemis Gompa is put on display. This two-storey high thangka is studded with pearls and semi-precious stones. A sight to see indeed! However, this grand show of thangka takes place every twelve years.

Other Cultural Attractions
Behind all these festivities lies your opportunity of meeting with a local friend. Interact with the natives of Ladakh and try to gain a much keener insight into their lifestyle. Don't forget to respect their culture though. Apart from coming across with the locals and knowing their day's routine, you can also plan to visit the monasteries that stand close by. The whole region is dotted with countless gompas that are known for their serenity and spiritual charm.



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