The festivals of Ladakh are as good as the land itself. They are simply amazing. They are highly colourful, enigmatic and showcase the truest meanings of Indian culture and most importantly spirit of Ladakh. In spite of Indian governance, Ladakh resembles more Tibet than India. The look of the people and their lifestyle is very much Tibetan. They practice Tibetan style Buddhism. Sometimes you may have illusion that you are not in India but in Tibet only. Ladakh, however, is not only known for its steep valleys and outrageous mountains but some colourful festivals. Read on to know the most enjoyable festivals in ladakh.
Losar : Losar is commemorated as the Tibetan new year and in Ladakh the festivities go on for a period of three days. Houses are washed and lit up with candles, prayers are offered at worship places and images of ibex are hung at the doors of the house. The most exciting rituals are held in the evening as you see the procession of fire, 'Metho' that is taken out to drive out evil spirits and hungry ghosts - the consequence of one's bad actions. The Ladakhis celebrate the coming year with fire and light.
Hemis Festival: It is one of the most popular festivals in the country and Ladakh. This is also considered as the most monastic festival. The celebrations are intended to mark the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava who is supposedly the reincarnation of Lord Buddha. The festival continued for two days. During this period the courtyard of Hemis Monastery hosts masked dance, music and other cultural activities. The masked dances describe victory of good over evil. Another highlight of the festival, though every twelfth year, is the showcasing of giant thankga. The thangka is worshipped with pearls and other precious stones.
Sindhu Darshan: Even though it is not a Buddhist festival but still people throng Ladakh in large numbers to witness it. The festival, though not even a religious one, is highly popular. Why? Because the festival marks the cultural unity of India and also pays tribute to those soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the country from external threats. Tourists and locals bring water from different rivers of the country and immerse it into the Sindhu as a mark of unity. The festival is held in the month of May-June with the combined efforts of Jammu Kashmir government and Minstry of Tourism India.
Ladakh Festival: Ladakh Festival is celebrated from 1st to 15th of September every year and celebrates the rich culture and tradition of the Ladakhi people. Various cultural and sporting events like folk dances, polo and archery are the main highlights of the festival. Entire Ladakh is painted in the colours of merriment, enthusiasm and a feeling of pride.
Other Monastic Festivals: There are a number of monasteries in Ladakh and a number of them celebrate their annual festival. Some of the monastic festival so celebrated are:
Thiksey Gustor is held in the month of October in Thiksey Monastery
Matho Narang is held in the month of March in Matho Monastery
Spituk Gustor is held in the month of January in Spituk Monastery
Phyang Tseruk is held in July-August in Phyang Monastery
Likir Monastery is festival held in February
Yuru Kabgyat is held in the month of July in Lamayuru Monastery
Tak Thok Tse Chu is held in the month of July in Taktok