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Hemis Festival, Leh Ladakh

Rejoicing in Buddhist Dance Extravaganza of the Hemis Festival of Leh, India

Location: Leh, Ladakh
Dates: July 3-July 4, 2017
Highlights: Colorful and Vibrant celebration of Buddhist dance festival, Enticing and absorbing environs created by the masked dance performers

While Buddhism is more known for its spiritual teachings, relatively discreet exhibition of faith, and an overall semblance of peace, there is at least one Buddhist ceremony that is quite ostensibly marked with color, fervor, and jubilation.

The two-day Hemis festival, celebrated annually in the months of June or July, at Buddhist monastery of Hemis Jangchub Choling, near Leh, Ladakh (in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir) is one such rare Buddhist extravaganza that must be seen for the excitement and vibrancy it generates.

This festival essentially marks a celebration of the birth anniversary of the spiritual leader Padmasambhava, who was the founder of Tibet Tantric Buddhism. Tantrism basically evolved as a movement within Buddhism which combined elements of Hinduism and paganism. A possible testimony to the historical relevance of this festival is that the monastery where it is hosted is as many as 300 years old and is the biggest and richest Buddhist monastery in the Ladakh region.

Undoubtedly, the biggest draw of the festival is the Masked Dance, which is demonstrated by the lamas. The unique dance stresses the perpetual prevalence of good over evil. What makes it interesting and quirky at the same time are the oddly heavy and colorful costumes and masks that these Lamas adorn. With their spectacular moves, they generate a massive energy in the environment to create an aura of palpable contest between the forces of the good and the evil. What adds to the scene is the adrenaline-pumping music created by systematic sounds of cymbals, drums, and trumpets. In addition, the picturesque location of Leh also offers uniquely natural settings for a tourist's delight.

A package to attend the ceremony will include international flights to and fro from New Delhi, domestic flights to Leh, luxury accommodation near the venue of the festival, and all major meals. So come and be a part of this unique, lesser known but amazingly spectacular show of Buddhist celebration.