• Yukta Chaudhari

6 Must-visit Festivals in Ladakh

Who doesn't like a starling and lively experience filled with colors of sacred tradition? The festivals in Ladakh give an insight into ancient Buddhist practices and are known for their traditional dances, ceremonial practices, music, and display of Buddhist art. The festivals of Ladakh are a major tourist attraction and receive a heavy number of visitors from across the world. The festivals in Ladakh do not fail to mesmerize the tourists by showcasing the different cultures that accommodate the region. Here's a selectively curated list of festivals celebrated in Ladakh that you must attend at least once.

  1. Hemis Festival

  2. Yuru Kabgyat Festival

  3. Losar Festival

  4. Saka Dawa Festival

  5. Ladakh Harvest Festival

  6. Sindhu Darshan Festival

Hemis Festival

Hemis Festival in Ladakh
Tama @ Flickr

Hosted in the Hemis gompa, the Hemis festival is celebrated on the 10th day of the Tibetan lunar month. The festival is characterized by the display of a four-story thangka (a Buddhist painting done on cotton) shown once in every 12 years. The festival is held to commemorate the founder of tantric Buddhism in Tibet; Guru Padmasambhava. You can find the monks and locals dressed in traditional clothes and beautiful jewelry. The festival is also known for the Cham dance which is an important part of the tantric tradition along with music provided by drums and longhorns giving an ancient aura and attracting tourists from all over the world to this festival.

Celebration time - early June for 3 days

Location- Hemis monastery, 45 km from Leh city

Yuru Kabgyat Festival

yuru kabgyat festival
by travelviewpoint.com

The Lamayuru monastery, more commonly known as the moonscape for tourists is the host of this festival. The Yuru Kabgyat festival is celebrated on the 17th and 18th day of the 5th month of the Tibetan calendar. The festival is famous for its Cham dance in which the lamas wear colorful vibrant masks and dance in a circle. The drama dance is the main highlight of this occasion and shows the characters of the god of death, Yama, and Padmasambhava The festival happens in the presence of Buddhist monks not just from India but also from Bhutan, China, Japan, and Korea.

Celebration time: June/July

Location: Lamayuru monastery, located about 127 km away from Leh

Losar Festival

Losar Festival
Raju Singh @ Flickr

The Losar festival is a celebration of the new year celebrated in its 11th month of the Tibetan calendar. The festival is celebrated all over Ladakh and is characterized by ancient rituals and sacrifices. The people illuminate their houses and decorate them by painting religious symbols and flower arrangements. Delicious food is prepared and fed to the gods, deities, and idols as well as animals. Processions of people chanting slogans to chase away evil are also common during this festival. The people carry out these processions wearing traditional clothes and beautiful vivid masks. The Losar festival is a celebration of tradition.

Celebration time: December/January

Location: All over Ladakh

Saka Dawa Festival

Saka Dawa Festival
by tourmyindia.com

The Saka Dawa festival is celebrated on the 4th month of the Tibetan calendar. This month is considered to be the month when buddha gained spiritual awakening. The birth of Buddha is also celebrated in the same month making it one of the holiest Buddhist festivals in Ladakh. This festival is characterized by the changing of the flagpole by the monks. The festival is colorful and vibrant and is celebrated all over Ladakh by doing the cham dance and setting animals free. This spiritual festival will surely give you an insight into the Buddhist culture and its teachings.

Celebration time: June

Location: All over Ladakh

Ladakh Harvest Festival

ladakh harvest festival
by jetsetquest.com

Organized by the Jammu and Kashmir tourism department the Ladakh harvest festival is a mixture of Asian Tibetan and North Indian culture shown beautifully through dances, handicrafts, music, and theatre. The festival consists of a procession through the market of Leh in which troops and villages portray their traditions. The festival celebrates and rejoices in the harvest of crops and promotes as well as maintains Ladakh's rich heritage.

Celebration time: 1-5th September

Location: Leh

Sindhu Darshan Festival

Sindhu Darshan Festival
Silver Blu3 @ Flickr

The Sindhu darshan festival is celebrated on the full moon of the Guru Poornima and goes on for three days. The festival is celebrated in honor of the river Indus and to promote unity and communal harmony in India. The Sindhu darshan festival is characterized by people bringing pots of water from their states and immersing it in the Sindhu river. A reception ceremony, as well as a series of cultural programs from various parts of India, is arranged by the religious associations of the country. A total of 50 monks recite prayers on the bank of the river Indus to celebrate this festival. The Sindhu darshan festival shows the integrity of the country in the best way possible.

Celebration time: 1st - 3rd June

Location: Banks of Sindhu river

The festivals of Ladakh portray its diversity through a cultural kaleidoscope. the ancient traditions of Ladakh are hidden inside these festivals covered by a celebration with dance and music. The festivals in Ladakh are not only fun and enjoyable but they also show us some important teachings of life. Enjoy the vivid beauty of these festivals on your next trip to Ladakh!

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