Ladakh undoubtedly is among the most visited places in India. With its glorifying pictorial landscape and scenic views that never fail to mesmerize, Ladakh is quite a synonym for the paradise of the Indian continent. Said to be the highest settlement in India, the union territory is one of the most scenic beauties that has been on every wanderer’s bucket list.
India is a country of diverse culture, and every culture has its own festivals to celebrate and enjoy in its own way. Similarly, Ladakh has its own many festivals, and the localities celebrate them with utter grace and joy. The locals and tourists love to be a part of these colorful festivals and enjoy every bit of this magical land’s culture and tradition. Visiting Ladakh during festivals is said to be the best way to interact and be part of locals. It is a great way to experience the real joy of exploring the culture. Here is the list of 12 Festivals celebrated in Ladakh, making it rich in culture and more beautiful.
1. The Losar Festival
Losar Festival is among the most popular and colorful festivals celebrated across Ladakh with great joy and passion in December. This festival is about welcoming the new year. Losar Festival is held every year on the 11th month of the Tibetan Calendar. Many cultural programs, ceremonies, and many breathtaking performances take place on this special day. Gods, Ancestors, and animals are also fed on this day as part of the rituals. The kitchen of every household of Ladakh is decorated with the images of Ibex, which is a symbol depicting good luck.
2. Phyang Tsedup
Phyang Tsedup or Phyang Festival is all about highlighting Lord Buddha and Buddhism’s preachings through cheerful and grand celebrations. This beautiful festival is celebrated in the Phyang monastery. The major highlight of this festival is the ethnic clothes of all the monks and their performance in the mask dance, which is considered to be sacred. During this festival, the pilgrimage of the followers to Thangka Of Skyabje Gombo is considered one of the most important rituals of this festival.
3. Hemis Tsechu
Hemis Tsechu – is celebrated at the well-known Hemis Monastery. It is a two-day festival filled with a lot of happiness and colors as colorful as a rainbow. One of the most unique things about the Hemis Festival is the famous lama’s mask dance. The mask dance performed inside the monastery creates a completely different hype among the visitors and pilgrims as it is a sheer treat to the eyes. The mask dance beautifully depicts and focuses on the feats of Guru Padmasambhava, also called Guru Rimpoche, a legendary Indian Buddhist monk who introduced Tantric Buddhism to Tibet. He is also credited with establishing the first Buddhist monastery there. The Hemis Festival ends with a sacrificial gift on the last day.
4. Matho Nagrang
Matho Nagrang is one of the most popular festivals celebrated and enjoyed by the people of Ladakh with great enthusiasm. During this festival, the monks are dressed like various local Ladakhi Gods and Goddesses. The great monks who have been meditating in isolation return after completing their meditation, making this festival a lot more special and serene. If you want to encounter the pure authenticity of Ladakh and its culture, this festival is a must-visit for you.
5. Ladakh Festival
Said to be among the most famous festivals in Ladakh, the Ladakh Festival is a celebration of the harvest season. Undoubtedly, the Ladakh festival has become one of the must-attend festivals that showcase performances and art forms of various cultures on one platform over the years. There is everything at this festival: dancing, music, singing, and whatnot. It is the real sight of Ladakhi culture and other different regional cultures. The festival also includes some sports activities such as archery and Polo. However, this festival’s main highlight is the mask dance at monasteries and live musical concerts.
6. Chemday Wangchok Festival
Chemday Wangchok Festival is celebrated in the Chemrey Monastery. The Chemrey Monastery was founded by the Lama Tagsang Raschen in 1664 and was dedicated to the great King Sengge Namgyal. The Chemrey monastery has a considerably higher Padmasambhava statue as compared with other monasteries.
The 28th and 29th day in the ninth month of the Tibetan calendar mark the beginning of this festival. This beautiful festival commemorates the victory of good over evil.
7. Yuru Kabgyat
This beautiful festival is celebrated to commemorate good over evil at the beautiful Lamayuru monastery in Lamayuru. The Lamayuru monastery’s stunning architecture and the festival’s blissful environment attract many people to witness this prosperous festival. There are many portrayals of various art forms such as drama, dance, and several other cultural programs. This festival aims to imitate and respect Buddhism’s teachings by dancing and singing gestures.
8. Deskit Gustor Festival
Celebrated inside the Diskit Monastery for two days, Deskit Gustor is another important festival in Ladakh. The significance of this beautiful festival is the commemoration of good over evil. Here also, you will witness the sacred masked dance being performed by the Lamas, which is accompanied by live music made using drums, horns, and cymbals. A visit to this festival will overwhelm you with the Fiesta feeling as the festival will hit you in the feels.
9. Sindhu Darshan
Credit: Free Press Journal
This festival is celebrated on the banks of river Indus. The festival is all about celebrating the Indus River’s existence, which is extremely sacred for people in Ladakh. It is said that this sacred river is the main reason for unity and harmony among the people. It is celebrated on Gurupurnima (a special full moon day) and is considered one of the most enthusiastic and high-spirited festivals in the Ladakh region. But if you think the festival is all about praying to Indus
River, the answer is NO. This festival also celebrates, and people offer respect to the Indian soldiers who were martyred while protecting the people of Ladakh and the entire India. This festival is a three-day extravaganza celebrated by the locals with passion, enthusiasm, and love.
10. Thiksey Gustor Festival
Celebrated in Thiksey Monastery, Karsha Nanzkar, and Spituk Monastery, the Thiksey Gustor Festival is a 2-day festival. ‘Gustor’ means ‘sacrificing the 29th date’. During this beautiful festival, there are early morning prayers inside the monasteries. After the festival is concluded, a sacrificial cake, also known as the Torma, is distributed during an ‘Argham’ ceremony (which means ‘killing’). The Black Hat dancers leader does this distribution and marks the end of this amazing and colorful festival and commemorating the victory of good over evil. The main highlight of this festival is the reenactment of the assassination of the traitor King Lang Darma of Tibet, during the mid 9th century, done by a Buddhist monk.
11. Dosmoche Festival
The Dosmoche Festival is the last festival, which is celebrated in respect to the New Year Celebrations. It was started by The royals of Ladakh to erase evil from everywhere. Lamas from Takthok Monastery recite mantras during this festival to eradicate evil. Sacred emblems are put across Leh, and traditional sacred mask dances take place inside the monastery. The ritual burning of the offerings implies the removal of all evil spirits. It is celebrated on the 28th and 29th day of the 12th Tibetan Month.
12. Stok Guru Tsechu Festival
One of the most special parts of every festival has to be the Mask Dances as they hold great importance and depicts the teachings and stories of Buddhism. It happens on the 9th and 10th day of the 1st month of the Tibetan Calendar. Two oracles appear during this festival – the forecast of the oracles are taken seriously by the locals. Monks prepare them by means of receiving the spirit of gods.