Festivals in Ladakh reflect liveliness of the people who reside in this barren land. There is a whole list of colorful festivals being celebrated with great pomp and show with an equal participation from locals and Buddhist monks. Don’t be surprised to see these celebrations being carried out in more of a Tibetan style rather than Indian manner. Reason behind this fact is that locals draw inspiration from Tibetan form of Buddhism.
Tourists also get a chance to be a part of this grand fiesta as most of the celebrations falls during winter season suitable for vacations. To make things simpler, one always has an option for going ahead with festival tour to this place. Following are the details of various festivities which can be enjoyed by visitors during their stay in this land of untouched beauty.
Dosmoche Festival This festival of scapegoat is celebrated during latter half of February and like Losar, it is also for New Year celebrations. It is marked by setting up a flagpole made up of wood outside monasteries and is meant for cleansing of town. It is believed that scapegoats take away with them all negative energy of previous year thus creating an auspicious path for the New Year. Various monasteries which are the venue for this festival are Leh Palace, Likir and Deskit monasteries.
Hemis Festival Hemis festival is one of the most famous festivals celebrated in oldest and richest monastery of Hemis. It is celebrated either in second half of June or initial half of July to commemorate birth of Guru Padmasambhava. After every 12 years, during monkey year festival four storied thangka of Guru Padmasambhava is hung in the yard along with a number of other valuable thangkas.
Losar Festival Losar festival is the celebration of Tibetan New Year. It is celebrated in a quite interesting manner and is celebrated continuously for three days. People clean their houses, offer prayers and hang ibex images at doors in order to contribute to purification of atmosphere. In evening, Metho- the procession of fire takes place to fight off ominous. Once torches are quenched and thrown out of the town, it is considered to be pious to welcome New Year.
Ladakh Festival Organized every year in the month of September by Kashmir and Jammu Tourism Department, Ladakh festival is marked by influx of several tourists. Aim of the festival is to exhibit unique culture of this region in order to promote tourism in this isolated yet colorful part of country. Festival is given a grand start with a glorious procession. Several cultural groups and villagers participate in the march performing on various dances, wearing vibrant traditional clothes adding to the celebrations. During this 15 days long festival exciting concerts, folk ceremonies along with polo and archery competitions are organized. Ladakh festival presents before the world once in a lifetime opportunity to observe in depth ancient cultural heritage of this region in a short span of time.
Other famous festivals are:
Phyang Festival Phyang festival is held in months of July-August. During this festival main attraction is the exhibition of thangka, which unlike Hemis occurs every year.
Lamayuru Festival Celebrated every year on 17th and 18th day of 5th month of Tibetan lunar calendar, Lamayuru Festival is distinguished with sacred mask dance performances.
Stok Guru Tsechu Stok Guru Tsechu festival is celebrated in month of February by monks of Spituk and Stok monastery.
Yuru Kabgyat It is a 2 day long festival during which monks of the monastery carry out rituals to have peace in this world. It is held in month of July in Lamayuru monastery.
Matho Nagrang Matho Nagrang festival is celebrated in the Matho monastery on 15th day of 1st month of Tibetan calendar for two days.
About the Author: Varun Thomas is a freelance writer whose major area of focus is travel. His articles on different travel topics like festivals of Ladakh and Ladakh tourism guide are published on various online platforms.
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