LADAKH has a rich cultural, religious and spiritual heritage. Festivals form an important part the culture, tradition and religion of Ladakh. The population of this remote place is predominantly Buddhist. Being remotely located, the place has carefully preserved the Buddhist faith. They seek refuge from the uncertainties in their religion. Their strong religious passion finds an outletin a number of festivals that people celebrate throughout the year. The festivals are occasions of happiness, joviality and merry making.
Festival celebrations in Ladakh are wonderful to watch. The celebrations of people show the passion and the faith in their religion. On every festival, the city is decorated like a bride. The traditional singing and dancing is an integral part of the festivals. People wear bright silk clothes and wear masks on their faces. Many festivals are celebrated in the monasteries. These festivals are organised by the monks living in these monasteries. The festivals are celebrated according to the Tibetan Lunar Calendar and hence the dates vary each year. Each festival is celebrated in a unique manner according to the pre-set guidelines.
Apart from being an integral part of their culture, tradition and religion, festivals in Ladakh
are a great source of tourist attraction. A large number of people travel to the region to witness the festival celebrations in area and get acquainted with the rich culture and tradition of the place.
Here are some of the festivals celebrated in Ladak :
HEMIS MONASTERY FESTIVAL
This festival is popularly known as Mela Hemis Gompa. It is the major festival celebrated in the region. It is culturally very significant. The festival is celebrated on the occasion of the birth anniversary of the Buddhist Guru Padmasambhava in the HemisMonastary. Hemis Monastery is one of the best monasteries in Ladakh. It is celebrated on the 10th of the Tibetan Lunar month corresponding to June July of the solar calendar. It usually lasts two days, which are public holidays in the province. A great fair is also organised during the festival, which is a source of attraction for the tourists. Beautiful handicrafts are put on sale during the fair.
Popularly known as the MelaDasmoche, it is the annual prayer festival. The festival was started by the kings of Ladakh following the famous Mon-Lam, the ‘Great Prayer’ ceremony of Lhasa. It is usually celebrated in the second half of February. It is one of the two New Year festivals in Ladakh. The festival is a public holiday in Leh and Zanskar. On this occasion a giant wooden mast, which is decorated with garlands and a number of religious symbols is set up outside Leh. At a set time, storm (ritual figures moulded out of dough) are ceremonially burnt or cast away into the desert. This festival is very much significant culturally, religiously and spiritually.
Losar festival is another important festival. It is celebrated with Dasmochi to welcome the Ladakhi New year. The festival lasts almost two weeks and is celebrated in December or January. On this occasion, sacrifices are made to the gods of Buddishts in gompas and in other domestic shrines. The festival is celebrated with a lot of symbolic activities including ancient rituals, stage fights between good and evil, chanting hymns and then moving through the crowds with fire torches. People dance, sing and make merry on the occasion. This festival does not have a set date and is celebrated on different dates in different places.
Apart from these festivals, many other big and small festivals are celebrated throughout the region. Some of the major festivals that have a rich significance are:
- Matho Nagrang
- Sindhu Darshan Festival
- Harvest Festival
- Tak -Tok Festival
- Yuru Kabgyat Festival