Hemis Festival in Ladakh

Hemis is the biggest and most famous of the monastic festivals, Hemis Festival is celebrated in Ladakh at the end of June or in early July and is dedicated to Guru Padmasambhava. After every 12 years, the Gompa's greatest treasure, a huge thangka or a religious icon painted or embroidered on cloth is ritually exhibited. The next unveiling is due to take place in 2004 AD.

A select group of resident lamas of the monastery, dressed in brightly patterned brocade, robes, perform these dances in the courtyard of the monastery. They also wear masks representing various divinities, which are mostly found in the form of statues in the "Gon Khang", the room dedicated to the guardian divinities. Some of the dances also feature masks representing famous characters from historical episodes or Tibetan fables.

The ritual instruments and the hand gestures or mudras of the dancers symbolise different aspects of the dance-drama. In between the more sombre sequences, relief is provided by a group of comic performers who jump into the scene in the guise of skeletons and other characters, performing comic and acrobatic feats. These also wear masks representing various divinities and religious or historical characters.

Festival Dates beginning July

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SUGGESTED SKETCH ITINERARY

Day 01 Arrive Leh
Day 02 Leh to witness "Hemis festival"
Day 03 Leh
Day 04 Leh
Day 05 Leh / Alchi
Day 06 Alchi / Lamayuru / Leh drive
Day 07 Leh / Nubra
Day 08 Nubra / Leh
Day 09 Leh / Departure

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