Hemis Gompa situated in Ladakh is its biggest monastery which is an arena for the famous annual Hemis Festival. Hemis Festival is celebrated in Ladakh on the occasion of birth anniversary of Guru Padamasambhava. Guru Padamasambhava is considered to be second Buddha and is respected throughout the ranges of Himalayas. He introduced Vajrayana Buddhism to Tibet and Bhutan.
Hemis Festival at Hemis Monastery Leh, Ladakh:
Hemis Monastery is situated at a distance of 40 km from Leh. Here the annual Hemis Festival is held in summer. This festival falls on tenth day of Tibetan Lunar month. It is a two day festival in which the local people get dressed up in their finest dress. Arrangements for the Hemis Festival is made by a display of raised dias and Tibetan table with items for ceremony such as uncooked rice, incense sticks, cups of holy water, tormas made from dough and butter. A sitting place is also arranged for the lamas to sit. One of the best attractions of this festival is the wonderful masked dances accompanied by drums, long horns and cymbals. These masked dances are called chams which are performed by the Lamas. Chams belong to the Tantric tradition and can be performed in the gompas only.
The dancers performing chams are dressed in colorful attire and beautiful paper- mache masks. These dances are performed to show the battle of good spirits with bad spirits. When the leader of black hat dancers destroys the dough idol of evil the crowd joins in the song and the dance. This symbolizes that the good has triumphed over the evil.
The ‘Thanka’ is displayed in the Tibetan year of the Monkey which comes after every 12 years. Thanka is actually two-storey high and depicts Guru Padmasambhava. It is decorated with semiprecious stones as well as pearls. In this festival there is also a display of attractive handicrafts which is considered to be the exceptional highlight of Hemis Festival.
If you are planning to visit Ladakh then make sure that you make a visit during the time of Hemis Festival. This is the festival you don’t want to miss.