The Hemis Festival, known as Hemis Tseschu, is a Buddhist festival observed in Ladakh, India. Ladakh is famous for its Buddhist culture and many Buddhist festivals are observed here, with Hemis being one of the major festivals. This festival is dedicated to Lord Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche, who is believed to be reincarnation of Buddha revered as the dance performance representative at the Hemis Monastery. The head monk of the monastery begins the Hemis Festival that is celebrated for two days. Check out complete details about the Hemis Festival 2023 such as its significance, how it is celebrated, what are the famous rituals and traditions, etc from this article.
Hemis Festival 2023 Date
Hemis festival falls on the tenth day of the Lunar month as per the Tibetan calendar. According to the Gregorian calendar this festival usually takes places in the month of June or July. Calculated as per the Tibetan calendar, in the year 2023 the Hemis festival will be celebrated on 28th and 29th June 2023.
About Hemis Gompa
The Hemis Monastery is a well-known Himalayan Buddhist monastery (called as gompa) of the Drukpa Lineage and is situated in Hemis, Ladakh, India. The monastery is run by the monks of the Drugpa sect even today. This monastery was constructed in 1630 by Sengge Namgyal, a ruler of Ladakh dynasty.
The Hemis monastery is situated around 40 to 45 kms away from Leh and is one of the most famous monasteries of Ladakh. The Hemis festival honoring the Buddhist Guru Padmasambhava is held every year at this monastery in the month of June or July.
Significance of Hemis Festival
Hemis festival marks the birth anniversary of the Buddhist leader Guru Padmasambhava. According to the Buddhist culture, this festival marks the victory of evil over good. It is believed that Guru Padmasambhava fought against evil and saved his followers and hence the people of this monastery celebrates his birthday as a tribute to him. Observing the sacred rituals on the day of Hemis festival is believed to bring spiritual strength and good health.
Guru Padmasambhava was born on the 10th day of fifth month of the Monkey year, which comes once in a cycle of 12 years. Therefore every 12 years, a grand celebration takes place at the monastery on Hemis festival and an exhibition is held on this day which is main attraction of this festival. The last exhibition took place in the year 2016 and the next will be held in 2028.
Hemis Festival Ritual
On the occasion of Hemis festival, two raised platform are created with a sacred pole in the center. On another lower platform, a richly cushioned seat with a finely painted small Tibetan table is placed. On this table ceremonial items that include cups full of holy water, uncooked rice, tormas made of dough and butter and incense sticks are placed.
There are musicians surrounding the platforms who play traditional music with four pairs of cymbals, large-pan drums, small trumpets and large size wind instruments. Next to them, a small space is assigned for the lamas to sit. Festivities begin with an early morning ritual atop the Gompa where the portrait of “Dadmokarpo” or “Rygyalsras Rinpoche” is put on display to be worshiped by the devotees.
Hemis Festival Celebration
Grand celebration is held on the occasion of Hemis festival and people at the monastery as well the locals take part in this celebration. They dress in bright colored clothes and take part in singing and dancing. Major attraction of the festival is the masked dance performed by the Lamas of the monastery to honor their Guru, Guru Padmasambhava.
The dance is called as Cham Dance of Ladakh and it is a very slow dance as compared to other dance forms. Through the dance, the main theme of the festival is depicted and that is the victory of good over evil. The dance begins from the center of the monastery courtyard where a flagpole is fixed.
The Lama’s dance is accompanied with a loud music that is another main attraction of this festival. Heavy music flows through musical instruments like cymbals and drums which enhances the festive mood of the monastery.
People of Ladakh
28th and 29th June 2023