Dancing to the sounds of cymbals, trumpets and drums, the people of Ladakh commemorate Guru Padamsambhav each year on his birth anniversary. A joyous occasion that further lights up with the performance of Cham Dance or Mask Dance is held annually in Hemis Monastery in the month of June. Amidst the incessant prayers, the message of triumph of good over evil is imparted and everyone returns home with unforgettable memories of this two-day festivity. Like every year, this year’s Hemis Festival 2020 looks promising and it indeed beckons globetrotters to march up to Leh to witness what is unparalleled.
Photo: Arun Sundar
The colourful festival takes place in Hemis Monastery, which is situated about 45kms from Leh city. The monastery is believed to be at least 300 years old and has been under the Namgyal progeny.
The festival is a two-day celebration and will be commencing on June 30, 2020 and its end will be marked on July 01, 2020. The festival is said to be celebrated in the 5th month of Tibetan calendar.
Guru Padmasambhav is reckoned to be second greatest figure of Buddhism after Lord Buddha. The legend has it that Guru Padmasambhav conquered the dark forces, which he did with the help of Vajrayana Buddhism. This tantric form of Buddhism not only defeated the dark powers but transformed them into protectors and guardians of the region. Thus, Guru Padmasambhav has been marked significant; and that is why his birth anniversary is celebrated with much zeal and enthusiasm in the Buddhist community. Hemis Festival is also celebrated to commemorate the sacred Guru on his birth anniversary.
Photo: Shashanka Nanda
Like every year, the Cham Dance or the Mystic Mask Dance steals the show during the festival. This year again, the Cham Dancers are believed to be the ones in the spotlight. Their fancy brocade outfits, interesting masks and synchronized dance steps on the traditional folk music guarantees to win the hearts of the onlookers.
Here is a clip that will give you an idea of how Cham Dance looks like:
Do not expect rigorous dance moves, it is a slow movement dance that depicts the subjugation of the ruta demons; incorporates Yama, the God of demise and the black-hatted wizard, Guru Trakpo, the conqueror of all fiends.
There are number of hotels around Hemis that come in various budgets. According to your pocket, you can book for hotel or a camp in the area. Since, Leh is only 45kms from Hemis, one can also choose to stay in Leh as the city has more budget options.