Hemis Festival Ladakh – Naropa 2016

Hemis Festival, Ladakh is the grandest festival of the land.

When summer has seeped into the nook and corners of Ladakh as the winter is safely tucked away. The warmth is welcomed by the people who eagerly wait for the celebrations which is called Hemis festival the largest that takes place in Hemis. The biggest Tibetan monastery of Ladakh is situated in the Hemis Monastery.

On the 10th day of Tibetan Lunar month which is called as Tse Chu every year, a two-day celebration is held by the monastery to Honour the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava who is also said to be a Rebirth of Buddha.
Guru Padmasambhava is supposed to have fought with demons for helping people of Ladakh on the path of spirituality which has been his life’s mission. This festival is celebrated for the victory over evil.

The Hemis festival is celebration at the Hemis Gompa- the monasteries court yard. On this day rituals are followed, People dance and sing wearing festival masks. Lamas gather around the flag pole which is placed in the centre of the monasteries court yard,which is 300 years old and also the richest monastery of Ladakh.

Various kind of sound can be heard from musical instruments like drums, long horns,cymbals and also dance performances.
Lots of people gather to participate in the celebrations and apart from the local crowd; also we can see lot of tourists.

We were fortunate to attend the Naropa festival, a celebration of the 1,000th birth anniversary of the great Buddhist saint Naropa. About 2 million people were expected to come from Ladakh, and countries like Bhutan and Nepal, for the week-long celebrations

Great opportunity for Photographers
Lots of people gather to participate in the celebrations in their traditional best. The monastery is decorated with sweets and flowers, due to which the place looks awesome with colors. The monastery hosts hunderds of people who come to see the Hemis festival which houses about 500 Lamas.

Another major attraction during the festival is chang, the country liqour which is served on the celebration day.

We attended the Naropa 2016, which happens once in 12 years, so the celebrations were more grand.

There was huge rush to get into the monastery.


And inside, it was fully packed! The villagers and the monks were all seated to watch the grandest celebration in Ladakh.


People were eagerly waiting for the cham or the masked dances to start.



The trumpets started blowing and more were brought in.



There was hardly any space and more people were joining. It was a hot morning and many people brought their umbrellas.


The Cham started.


More monks dressed in their traditional attire came out of the monasteries and started performing the rituals.






Then Guru Padmasambhava comes. He is made to sit on the throne and is worshipped by the monks.










One of the highlights of the Naropa festival is the rare public display of six bone ornaments and the unfurling of the ancient silk Thangka of Buddha Amitabha, the largest silk brocade in the Himalayas.

The locals believe that the sight of the ornaments and the “Thangka” can make them attain salvation.



Hemis festival 2017 dates are 3rd July 2017 to 4th July 2017

Tips for Photographers:
1. Go early, the place gets really crowded.
2. You might like to carry different lenses for different angle of views.
3. Talk to the locals and be a part of the festival.
4. Have a heavy breakfast, and carry some energy bars – the festivities go for long, you might feel hungry.
5. Have fun!

Hemis Festival Ladakh was a part of the Photo-tour to Ladakh organized by Saurabh Chatterjee

Thank you for reading this post. Hope you liked spending time here. I will be back again with another interesting place.

You might like to read the previous posts

This post is written by Saurabh Chatterjee. He is a travel photographer and a photography trainer.
He strives to ‘make every camera-owner a great photographer through his Photography workshops and Photo Tours and Photowalks..

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