Concealed in a deep ravine of the world, you come across the Hemis Gompa (Hemis monastery) round the western mountains of Ladakh. This two-day festival depicts a dance-homage to the birth anniversary of Lord Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche. The festival is the largest and biggest of the Tibetan Buddhist Gompa festivals in Ladakh. It is celebrated across three days from the 9th to the 11th day of the fifth month of the lunar Tibetan calendar. To add on, the festivities can best be seen at the biggest and wealthiest monastery of Ladakh, the Hemis Gompa.
It brings the families of Ladakh close together, as they begin arriving from all over the valley. Their ornate festival clothing reveals a Tibetan, rather than Indian, heritage. Bright cummerbunds on the quilted coats adorn the men who are on their way to the mela. Many women wear the perak, an elaborate headdress with woven strips of beads and turquoise, silver dangles, and upright ears of braided yak hair. Each family carries a savovar of yak-butter tea, and a canister of tsampa, roasted barley flour. This festival attracts devotees and visitors from all across India and abroad.
The colorful, vibrant and endless dances are accompanied by discordant sounds of cymbals, large-pan drums, small trumpets and large wind size instruments measuring three meters (10 feet) long. The lamas (monks) get transformed into demons and gods. Horned devil-masks and padded brocade outfits come to life as they play out the scriptured battles between good and evil spirits. Lamas with red-robes and tall tufted hats bang on drums and crash symbols together as others gyrate and leap to fight off demons. The Hemis Gompa festival spreads the message of the victory of good over evil, knowledge over ignorance and virtue over vice.