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Hemis Festival in 18 stunning photographs

July 08, 2014 15:16 IST

Hemis Festival in 18 stunning photographs

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Rediff.com's Reuben NV witnessed the colourful Hemis Festival in the eponymous town of Ladakh.

Here are snapshots from the festival and everything you need to know about it.

It is an annual festival held for two days in either June or July. This year's dates were July 7 and 8.

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Photographs: Reuben NV

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Hemis Festival in 18 stunning photographs

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The venue is the 300-year-old Buddhist monastery of Hemis Jangchub Choling. It is located in Ladakh and is the biggest and richest Buddhist monastery in the region.

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Photographs: Reuben NV

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Hemis Festival in 18 stunning photographs

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It commemorates the birth of Guru Padmasambhava founder of Tantric Buddhism in Tibet.

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Photographs: Reuben NV

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Hemis Festival in 18 stunning photographs

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As in most festivals, there is dancing too. The masked performance, put up by local monks, is the mainstay of this festival.

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Photographs: Reuben NV

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Hemis Festival in 18 stunning photographs

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The masks form an important part of the performance and each mask depicts a person from the legends.

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Photographs: Reuben NV

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Hemis Festival in 18 stunning photographs

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Over the years, the Hemis Festival has been popular not just among the locals but also with foreigners.

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Photographs: Reuben NV

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Hemis Festival in 18 stunning photographs

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The masks are elaborate and the dance moves, slow. Even those who play the music (to which the monks dance) wear these masks.

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Photographs: Reuben NV

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Hemis Festival in 18 stunning photographs

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The dance is in fact part of the tantric traditions and can be performed only by those monks who follow the Tantric Vajrayana teachings.

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Photographs: Reuben NV

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Hemis Festival in 18 stunning photographs

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The brightly coloured-masks are the highlight of this festival.

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Photographs: Reuben NV

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Hemis Festival in 18 stunning photographs

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A young lad watches the performance earnestly as his guardian explains the goings-on to him.

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Photographs: Reuben NV

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Hemis Festival in 18 stunning photographs

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Tourists crowd around to shoot photographs of a masked performer.

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Photographs: Reuben NV

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Hemis Festival in 18 stunning photographs

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The monastery is home to some 500 monks, some of who are seen here performing in the courtyard of the majestic monastery.

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Photographs: Reuben NV

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Hemis Festival in 18 stunning photographs

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Like all religious performances, this one too illustrates the universal theme of good prevailing over evil.

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Photographs: Reuben NV

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Hemis Festival in 18 stunning photographs

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Since they depict various aspects of the legends, these masks can also tend to be grotesque (implying the evil).

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Photographs: Reuben NV

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Hemis Festival in 18 stunning photographs

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A senior member of the audience enjoys the performance.

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Photographs: Reuben NV

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Hemis Festival in 18 stunning photographs

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Interestingly, the purpose of the dances is not so much to entertain as it is an invocation to the rain gods.

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Photographs: Reuben NV

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Hemis Festival in 18 stunning photographs

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Every 12 years the monks unroll the famous Hemis thanka or tapestry that is as long as the monastery is tall. It was unrolled last in 2004.

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Photographs: Reuben NV

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Hemis Festival in 18 stunning photographs

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The festivities end with the burning of a dummy that represents the human ego.


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