Hemis Festival: Reasons why you should be at Ladakh’s most popular festival

The Hemis monastery opens its doors after the end of winter. The date is according to the Lunar calendar and changes every year

Hemis monastery. Source: Wikimedia common

Sept 20, 2016: All your questions answered about the Hemis Festival of Ladakh. Here is what it is all about and why you should not miss a chance to be at Ladakh’s largest and the most popular festival. The annual two day Hemis Festival at the Hemis Monastery has become a great tourist attraction.


Ladakh faces harsh months of winter from November to March.  As they prepare for their bright days ahead, the world gears up to be a the Hemis with them. The Hemis Jangchub Choling monastery start preparing for celebrating the birth of Lord Padmasambhava, their local savious. The festival is a colourful extravaganza comprising of dance, music and mmasked performances. The otherwise serene , untouched landscape transforms into a vibrant and chaotic environment during this time of the year.


According to the Tibetan legends, this festival originated in the 8th Cebtury. Lord Padmasambhava, known as Guru Rimpoche to the locals is belived to be the savior who banished the demons and spirits.He is said to have introduces Tantric Buddhism to the Ladhakis. He combined the teachings of Buddhism and Tibetan culture to establish a new way of life.


The festival highlight includes dance performances by masked Lamas. The theme of these performances is the victory of good over evil. These performers are dressed in vibrant costumes and bright colored masks. The masks signify different Gods, animals and other characters to depict stories. The dance style includes slow graceful movements with fancy expressions. They also use musicals instruments like the drums, trumpets and cymbals to accompany the dance performance. The main performance depicts the victory over the Ruta demons.

Every 12th year is the Monkey year according to the Tibetan calendar. This festival becomes twofold and the unfurling of the largest Thangkhaof 12 meters from the second floor of the monastery Happened in 2016 after 12 years.The scripture is delicately preserved and is worth seeing.


The Hemis monastery opens its doors after the end of winter. The date is according to the Lunar calendarand hence changes every year. This year it was celebrated on the 15th and 16th of July.


Hemis monastery. Source: Wikimedia common
Hemis monastery. Source: Wikimedia common

The Hemis monastery lies in a gorge, 45 kms from Leh in Jammu and Kashmir.This quaint setting amidst the greenery is a sight you would not want to miss. The Gompa in Ladakh which houses almost 500 monks is accessible. A perfect place for backpackers, travellers and adventure junkies.

– by Rasika Iyer of NewsGram. Twitter: @Rasikaiyer93




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