Hemis Gompa marks the birth anniversary of the incarnation of Lord Buddha, Guru Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche. It is one of the most auspicious festivals celebrated by the believers of Buddhism. The festival is commemorated from the 9th to 11th day of the fifth month of the Tibetan calendar. The major celebrations take place at the Hemis Monastery located in Ladakh, at 12,000 feet above sea level, which is considered to be the biggest and wealthiest Buddhist monastery and one of the highest habitations. The festival is a two-day fair marked with colors, handicrafts, dances, etc. With this article, learn the history behind the origin of the festival of Hemis Gompa.
Historical Background Of Hemis Gompa
The Hemis Gompa is a monastery founded and re-established by Stagtshang Rinchen about 350 years ago in 1672. He was invited by the Ladakhi King Sengge Namgyal, where the monastery was built on the basis of Tibetan Architecture. Though the monastery flourished in the reign of Namgyal Dynasty, the royalty favored the Drupka sect that actually managed the monastery. Since the Buddhism religion was practiced at the Hemis Gompa and the Drupka sect prevailed at the place, the building belonged to the Drupka order.
The festival celebrates the birthday of the 12th Gyalwang Drukchen Rinpoche, who is considered to be the chief spiritual head of the Drupka Kargyud lineage and the head of the Hemis monastery. There are beliefs of predicting the birthday of Guru Rinpoche by Sakya Muni Buddha himself. He is believed to be born on the 10th day of the fifth month of the Monkey year, as per the Tibetan calendar. Guru Rinpoche is known to spread the Buddhism religion throughout Tibet, thereby spreading the message of spiritual harmony and intellectual prosperity. Hence, the Hemis Gompa festival is dedicated towards improving the Guru’s teachings of spiritual strength and good health.
The Monkey year is repeated once in every 12 years and hence, the Hemis Gompa festival is celebrated with a major extravaganza throughout Buddhist places, especially in Hemis Gompa on that particular year. The two-storey high ‘Thanka’, the largest in Ladakh, depicting Padmasambhava is displayed. This popular Thanka is opulently embellished with pearls and semi-precious stones. The main highlights of the festival are the colorful fair exhibiting beautiful crafts and dance performances.