The Hemis festival is dedicated to Lord Padmasambhava (Guru Rimpoche) venerated as the Dance Performance at Hemis Monastery representative reincarnate of Buddha. It is believed that his life mission was, and remains, to improve the spiritual condition of all living beings. And so on this day, which comes once in a cycle of 12 years, Hemis observes a major extravaganza in his memory.
The observance of these sacred rituals is believed to give spiritual strength and good health. The Hemis festival takes place in the rectangular courtyard in front of the main door of the monastery. A number of musicians play the traditional music with four pairs of cymbals, large-pan drums, small trumpets and large size wind instruments. Next to them, a small space is assigned for the lamas to sit.
The ceremonies begin with an early morning ritual atop the Gompa where, to the beat of drums and the resounding clash of cymbals and the spiritual wail of pipes, the portrait of “Dadmokarpo” or “Rygyalsras Rimpoche” is then ceremoniously put on display for all to admire and worship.
The most esoteric of festivities are the mystic mask dances. The Mask Dances of Ladakh are referred collectively as chams Performance. Chams performance is essentially a part of Tantric tradition, performed only in those gompas which follow the Tantric Vajrayana teachings and the monks perform tantric worship.
OWT is pleased to share this video of the Festival, created by American filmmaker Ben Baker-Lee. Ben earned a BFA in Film and Television from the Tisch School of the Arts in New York City in 2003. He currently is Executive Producer at Sabreena Now Productions.
You can join Original World/Spirit of India for this once in a lifetime tour of Ladakh and experience the Kalachakra teachings with HH the Dalai Lama as well as attend the Hemis Festival.
Hemis Festival, Ladakh from Benjamin Baker-Lee on Vimeo.