On my recent visit to India, I got to experience Hemis Festival. I was just awe-struck and my jaws dropped to say the least. It was a colourful festival of music and dance with its roots deeply connected to spirituality like any other festival for that reason.
Every state in India poses some or the other kind of regional festivals. Hemis festival is among those festivals celebrated in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir. It is a two-day festival commemorated as the birth anniversary of the Guru Padmasambhava who was the founder of the Tantric Buddhism in Tibet. Every year in the months of June or July this festival is celebrated at a very large-scale. The courtyard of 300- hundred year old Buddhist monastery of Hemis Jangchub Choling situated near Leh is chosen to be the ideal place for the celebrations. It is considered to be the largest and richest of all the Buddhist monasteries in Ladakh that carry a particular significance. This is the traditional festival for all the Buddhist monks living in this region and it is usually observed by them.
Masked dance performances by the lamas, traditional music and other cultural activities become the highlight of the day. These performances illustrate the victory of good over evil and the fact that good always prevails over the bad. Most of the performers are well dressed in bright and bizarre costumes along with wearing the painted masks. The dance being very slow is very different from the other forms as it consists of monstrous facial expressions. Music is basically characterized by the traditional drum, cymbals and cumbersome trumpet sounds. Each and every mask worn in the festival depicts one or the other great legends. Leaving everything apart, the Padmasambhava dance consisting of portraying of the famous conquests of Ruta demons including the god of death and the black-hatted sorcerer subjugator of all demons is one of the most eye-catching elements of the festival.