The Hemis Gompa festival commemorates the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava. It is one of the most significant festivals celebrated by the Buddhist community. It falls on the 10th day of the fifth month of the Tibetan lunar calendar. The main attraction of the festival can be witnessed at the Hemis Gompa, the largest Buddhist monastery, located in Hemis, Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir where a large fair awaits all the devotees and visitors. Celebrated with great zeal and gusto, people from all across the world gather at the beautiful monastery of Hemis Gompa to view the colorful celebrations of the festival in the courtyard. Go through the following lines to know the main highlights of the Hemis Gompa fair/ mela.
Hemis Gompa Fair
The Hemis Gompa festival is celebrated across two days and is marked by a huge, colorful fair. The rectangular court in front of the main door of the Hemis Monastery forms the main celebration point. Since the space is wide and open, two square platforms are raised measuring about three feet high. A sacred pole is held high in the center. A finely painted small Tibetan table is placed on a raised dais, which is decorated with a richly cushioned seat. This small table is nicely embellished and decorated with several ceremonial items, such as cups full of holy water, uncooked rice, tormas made of dough and butter and incense sticks.
Numerous musicians play the traditional music using four pairs of cymbals, large-pan drums, small trumpets and large size wind instruments. A small space is set aside next to the musicians for the lamas to be seated for the celebrations. Early in the morning, the local people don their best traditional attires for the festivities. Women folk dress up traditionally in ornate gears and silver ornaments. The men folk usually dress up in coats of quilts. A large portrait of Guru Rinpoche is displayed in the courtyard for all the devotees to admire, worship and seek blessings from the Guru. People perform lavish and colorful dances for the visitors.
A solemn parade is initiated by pre-Lamaism priests dressed in rich robes of china silk and brocade with odd tall tufted hats. At the beats of the musical instruments, the lamas wear long masks and dance with leaps and gyrations enacting the eternal fight between the good and the evil. The Gods are depicted by wearing red robes, while the devils are portrayed through brocade outfits. These mask dances are known as chams performance. Chams performance is part of the Tantric tradition that is performed only in Gompas that follow the Tantric vajrayana teachings and the monks that perform tantric worship.
The festival plays a major role in unifying the Ladakhi families giving them enough time to mingle and bond with one another. The guests are served with a special tea (prepared from yak butter and flour from barley that is well roasted) brought by the Ladakhi families. People from all over Ladakh and Tibet come together at the fair organized on this festival. The festival boasts of colorful and hand woven dresses and beautiful handicrafts to select from. Various other antique objects, such as the structure of Buddha Shakyamuni, are also available at the shopping stalls. Look out for the one adorned with valuable gems and jewelry. It really is an exquisite and noteworthy object to take back home.