Ladakh is that one dreamy place all of us associate with exquisite beauty and a loveliness which is beyond words but there is more to this pretty place than we think. Besides offering all the beauty that it is known for, Ladakh also hosts a wonderful festival known as the Hemis festival. This two day festival celebrates the victory of the good over evil.
Hemis is a popular cultural festival of Ladakh denoting the birth anniversary of Buddhist guru Padmasambhava who fought the evil to protect his people. According to the Tibetan calendar, on the tenth day of the lunar month, the Lama Head organizes this festival in the popular Hemis Gompa.
It is one of the most colourful festivals of this region as they have a number of people dressed up in bright and colourful clothes to celebrate the festival. It is a fun filled multi-coloured fair with stalls and shops which sell the prettiest of souvenirs and handicrafts. Exhibitions and stalls are not its only attraction, and there is much more to this exuberant fair.
There is also a particular ritual attached to this festival according to which people mask themselves while singing and dancing. One of the main highlights of the festival is the masked dance performed by Lamas. They gather around the central flagpole and perform mystic masked dances and sacred plays; this dance is the highlight of the festival.
This mystic masked dance is known as Chams, which is basically part of Tantric tradition and is performed only in those Gompas which follow the Tantric Vajrayana traditions. For the dance, the masked dancers are dressed in colourful bright brocades and the masks are vibrantly decorated with richly adorned paper. The dance begins to the cacophony of drums, cymbals and long horns, where the masked dancers represent the combat between the good spirits and the evil spirits.
The crowd is ecstatic when the dough idol symbolising evil is destroyed by the leader of the black hat dancers, which represents that good has prevailed. For those looking for a few more reasons to partake in this spectacular display, we’re sure you’ll find plenty in the unique beauty of Ladakh, so be a part of this remarkable cultural celebration and enjoy an enchanting adventure of a lifetime!