Fairs and festivals are always an integral part of Ladakh state tourism. Ladakh has a rich culture primarily based on Buddhism. The festivals of Ladakh are also based on Buddhist rituals and ceremonies, and they are the doorways that give insight into the rich culture and heritage of Ladakh.
Due to the geographical location of Ladakh, the culture of the state is highly influenced by the Tibetan form of Buddhism. The grand celebration of Ladakh festivals is marked by the feast, various forms of dances, and playing of instruments native to the state. People from all around the world come and anticipate the festivals of Ladakh.
In this article, we will try to look closely at the festivals of Ladakh so that every one of us gets useful insight into the culture of Ladakh.
Also Read: Places to visit in Ladakh
Main Festivals Of Ladakh
Hemis festival is one of the major festivals celebrated in Ladakh. Hemis Gompa is the biggest monastery in Ladakh. Every year Hemis Gompa organizes this festival on the 10th day of the Tibetan Lunar month. As per the calendar, the festival takes place from 9th to 11th June. The importance of the Hemis festival is that it is celebrated in honor of Guru Padmasambhava. It is believed that the main mission of Padmasambhava was to enhance the spiritual life of every human being on Earth. Hemis festival is celebrated in the main courtyard of the monastery. The commencement of the festival takes place with musicians and bands playing traditional songs, blowing trumpets and drum beats of various kinds. It is followed by a chams performance, where dancers perform mask dances. Mask dance holds a great significance in Ladakh culture as mask dance represents tantric Buddhism. Gompas that follow tantric Buddhism are allowed for mask dances.
It is another famous festival in Ladakh. Losar is Tibetan New Year. The ‘Lo’ refers to the year, and ‘Sar’ is for new. It is celebrated on the first day of the lunisolar Tibetan calendar. The celebration of the Losar festival continues for a stretch of 15 days. The first three days are of utmost importance in this festival. At the Losar festival Tibetan Gods, Deities, ancestors, and animals are served with delicacies. When the people of Ladakh celebrate the Losar festival, they illuminate all religious places, such as stupas, monasteries, and also their houses. Evening processions, folk dances, musical performances, prayers in monasteries, and food offerings are the major events of this festival.
Sindhu Darshan is among the major festivals of Ladakh. If you are planning your trip to Ladakh in June, then try to be a part of this festival. Sindhu Darshan is held every year on the day of Guru Purnima. The word ‘Sindhu’ refers to the Indus river. The festival is a celebration of the Indus river. It is a 3 days festival, during this time, you can watch a lot of tourist gatherings from India and abroad. As we all know, Indus or Sindhu river is one of the major and most important rivers for the people of Ladakh. It is a river with historical significance for Ladakh. During the Sindhu Darshan festival, people from different parts of the country bring water into an earthen pot and pour it into the Indus river. During all three days of the festival, prayer is done on the banks of the river by 50 Lamas, and after that, various dance and music performance takes place along with the banks of the Indus river.
It is another famous festival of Ladakh that consists of prayers. It is celebrated in the monasteries of Leh, Likir, and Diskit. Dosmoche festival is the last festival of the New year celebrations. The festival was started by the elite class of Ladakh; in historical times, rulers of Ladakh started celebrating this festival. It is celebrated to eradicate the evil forces surrounding people. The festival includes the participation of monks from different monasteries, followed by dance and musical performances at the chapel of the Leh Palace. In celebration of the Dosmoche festival, thread plays a significant role. Senior monks from various monasteries having Tantric knowledge make a mesh of thread to trap the evil forces and pray to safeguard the palace from disasters. During the celebrations of Dosmoche, Leh Palace is decorated magnificently, and a lot of tourists gather to watch the beautiful palace during the festive celebrations.
Saka Dawa Festival
Another notable festival of Ladakh is Saka Dawa Festival. Saka Dawa festival is celebrated to honor the birth of Sakyamuni. It is one of the most pious and holiest Buddhist festivals for the people of Ladakh. Sakyamuni is another name for Gautam Buddha. People of Ladakh believed that on this day, he was born and also attained nirvana. The festival is celebrated in the fourth month of the Tibetan calendar, which happens to be the month of June. One of the most important rituals performed on this day is the changing of the flag pole. Lamas from nearby monasteries start this ceremony. During the celebrations of the Saka Dawa festival, the people of Ladakh chants mantras set animals free for the day and refrain from killing any animal. In a nutshell, they take the path of Buddha.
These are the beautiful festivals of Ladakh that take place in different months of the year. Most of these festivals are celebrated as per the Tibetan calendar and based on Tibetan Buddhism. If you are planning your trip to Ladakh, then try to organize your trip during the festivals of Ladakh to enjoy the culture of Ladakh. By being part of the Ladakh festivals, you may learn more about the culture as well as the religious history of the place. Also, do not forget to visit Travelist; we always try to bring the best information related to traveling for you.