Hemis Festival – Ladakh, Jammu Kashmir
Hemis, a picturesque town that lays 40 km in the southeast of Leh in Ladakh becomes a place oozing with exuberance and exhilaration in July every year. Hemis Festival is celebrated with great pomp and show in ‘Hemis Monastery’, which is acclaimed as wealthiest, well-known and biggest gompa of Ladakh. This festival is characterized by splendid masked dances that are performed accompanied by cymbals, drums and long horns. Besides music and dance, a prismatic fair is held that showcases some important Buddhist events and also displays beautiful artworks and handicrafts.
Commemorating the birth anniversary of Lord Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, Buddha Poornima is celebrated with all its Buddhism essence. This day falls on full moon night in the month of Vaisakha (either in April or May) and is beautifully and majestically celebrated in Mahabodhi temple in bodhgaya. The day goes in prayer meets, recitation of invaluable Buddha sermons & Buddhist scriptures, religious processions, meditation episodes and Buddha worshiping. On this auspicious day, Mahabodhi temple can be seen at its full bloom and charm.
Ullambana, or the Ghost Festival, is the most popular festival celebrated by Buddhists in different countries across the world. It is celebrated on the 15th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar. Ullambana is a festival of liberation, it means ‘deliverance from suffering’ and refers to salvation, which is granted to tormented or damned souls in hell. On this day, Buddhists offer prayers both to their departed forefathers and to their living parents and elders, as its considered that this act helps the dead to be reborn in good realms and alleviate his/her suffering.
Characterized by music, dance and merry-making, Losar Festival is the Ladakhi or Tibetan festival celebrated to commemorate the onset of New Year. It is celebrated for two weeks during the month of January or February according to the Gregorian calendar. This festival is marked with ritualistic chantings, passing through crowds with fire torches and enacting stage fights between good & evil. This period of happiness and mirth is a sacred time for Buddhist and is considered as highly auspicious.