INDIA FESTIVAL HEMIS FESTIVAL




 
Hemis Festival : Introduction

 



The courtyard of Hemis Gompa - the biggest Buddhist monastery in Ladakh, is the stage for the famous 'Hemis' festival, that celebrates the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava. The colourful two day pageant falls on the 10th day (Tse-Chu) of the Tibetan lunar month. The Hemis Festival is held every year in the Hemis Monastery, the biggest Buddhist monastery of Ladakh. The Hemis festival takes place in the rectangular courtyard in front of the main door of the monastery. The space is wide and open save two raised square platforms, three feet high with a sacred pole in the center. A raised dias with a richly cushioned seat with a finely painted small Tibetan table is placed with the ceremonial items - cups full of holy water, uncooked rice, tormas made of dough and butter and incense sticks. A number of musicians play the traditional music with four pairs of cymbals, large-pan drums, small trumpets and large size wind instruments. Next to them, a small space is assigned for the lamas to sit. During the festival, the Lamas gather around the central flagpole in the courtyard of the monastery and perform mask dances and sacred plays. Their performances are accompanied by the music from drums, cymbals and long horns. The head lama presides over the function. The festival takes an auspicious turn every 12 years in the Tibetan Year of the Monkey, when the two-storey high 'Thanka' depicting Padmasambhava is displayed. This famous 'Thanka', richly embroidered with pearls and semi-precious stones, is due to be displayed at this years festival i.e in 2004. A colourful fair, displaying some beautiful handicrafts, is the special highlight of the festival.

A colourful fair, displaying some beautiful handicrafts, is the special highlight of the festival. The so-called 'devil dances' constitute an important element in the social entertainment of the Ladakhis. The uproarious song-and-dance mirth, created by these mask dances, which invariably depict the victory of the right over evil, is kept by the all-round consumption of huge bowls of 'chang', Ladakhis own country liquor.

The most esoteric of festivities are the mystic mask dances. The Mask Dances of Ladakh are referred collectively as chams Performance. Chams performance is essentially a part of Tantric tradition, performed only in those gompas which follow the Tantric vajrayana teachings and the monks perform tantric worship.


History Of Hemis Festival

 

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