Hemis festival begins with symbolic mask dance

Monks performing symbolic mask dance in empty court yard as Hemis festival began on Tuesday.
Monks performing symbolic mask dance in empty court yard as Hemis festival began on Tuesday.

Excelsior Correspondent
LEH, June 30: The legendary two days Hemis festival, popularly known as Hemis Tses-Chu to commemorate the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava- also known as second Buddha, began today.

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Guru Padmasambhava introduced and flourished Vajrayana Buddhist tradition in the entire Himalayas. Two days annual Hemis Festival is celebrated on the 10th day of the fifth month of Tibetan lunar calendar which is believed to be the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava.
On the direction of Gyalwang Drukpa, the head lama of Drukpa lineage, the monks performed the symbolic mask dance without allowing any devotees to attend the festivals thereby adhering the Covid-19 guidelines strictly.
For the first time in the history of Ladakh, the festival is being celebrated without any public participation. Due to covid-19 guidelines, Hemis Monastery, the largest monastery of Ladakh announced to celebrate the symbolic festival without public participation.
The monks of Hemis Monastery wearing their best robes performed colourful mask dance in the empty court yard of the Monastery. During mask dance, the monks make different gestures of hands and legs signifying good prevailing over evil.
The initial mask dancers include 13 black hat dancers comprising 13 monks who appeared wearing a complete tantric dress with great symbolic meaning. Then sixteen dancers wearing copper gilded masks captivated the audience. These are believed to be the divine fairies. Then there were the eight manifestations of Guru Padmasambhava, which are the principle forms he assumed at different points in his life.
Later, in the afternoon session, there were twelve Zhing Kyong dancers who are believed to be protectors of the Buddha’s teachings. Then Serkyem, a libation or beverages offering rite is performed by the Lobpon (main teacher) of Hemis.
Famous Hemis festival is not just a symbolic festival but is sacred ritual to bring peace, prosperity and harmony among all sentient beings in the entire world.