Saturday, September 25, 2010

Hemis Gompa Festival

Hemis Gompa 2013 falls on 18th and 19th June, Tuesday and Wednesday. Hemis Gompa 2014 is on 7th and 8th July, Monday and Tuesday.

Hemis Gompa Monastery

Hemis Gompa is a very popular festival chiefly celebrated by the Buddhist community of India. A fair by the name of Hemis is held in celebration of the birthday of the Guru Padmasambhaba also known as Guru Rimpoche. The Buddhists believe him to be an incarnation of Lord Buddha himself. Hemis is actually the name of a monastery situated in Jammu and Kashmir State of India.

[caption id="attachment_1741" align="alignleft" width="400" caption="Hemis monastery in Ladakh, 1876"]Hemis monastery in Ladakh, 1876[/caption]

The Hemis Gompa lies tucked away and hidden in the folds of Himalayas. It falls in the Ladakh region. The height of this monastery is approximately 12,000 feet and is considered one of the highest habitations. It was established years ago by a Lama named Tagstang Raspa. History says it was built under the rule of King Sengge Namgyal. This monastery is undoubtedly one of the oldest ones. The Hemis Gompa is unique in its construction and has an intricate designing. It is beautifully painted in traditional rich colors and gold paint.

Highlights - Hemis Gompa festival

The festival lasts for two days and a fair marks the occasion. During the festival, the Ladhakis come from all parts of the valley to celebrate. Not only Indians, the unique flavor of this festival also draws a lot of foreign tourists from all over the world. The fair is held in the courtyard surrounding the Hemis monastery. Their dresses remind us of Tibetan tradition more than any Indian custom. During the festivities you will find the women folk traditionally dressed with ornate headgears. The men folk usually adorn themselves with coats of quilts. The women also wear silver ornaments. They dance, sing and make merry. The Ladhaki families carry with them a special tea prepared from yak butter and flour from barley that is well roasted. The display of elegant hand crafted pieces of art forms a major attraction along with the colorful and lively masked performances.

Masked dance

A special musical instrument or trumpet of brass accompanies the dances. With the reverberations of the drums and the clanging of cymbals, the lamas dance with leaps and gyrations. Through the dances, the eternal fight between the good and the evil is enacted. The lamas play the roles of both the Gods as well as the devils and wear masks along with brocade outfits signifying devils and red robes signifying Gods. Like every other festival, the Hemis Gompa festival too plays its very important role of bringing the Ladhaki families together. It is a time of mingling and bonding.

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