The Hemis Festival is dedicated to Lord Padmasambhava (Guru Rimpoche) venerated as the second Buddha with a Dance Performance at Hemis Monastery.
He is believed to have been born on the 10th day of the fifth month of the Monkey year as predicted by the Buddha Shakyamuni. It is also believed that his life mission was, and remains, to improve the spiritual condition of all living beings. And so on that day, Hemis observes a major extravaganza in his memory.
The observance of these sacred rituals is believed to give spiritual strength and good health.
The festival highlight is the gathering of the Lamas around the central flagpole to perform the mystic mask dances (Charms) and sacred plays. Charms are an essential part of Tantric tradition, performed only in the compass that Â follow the Tantric Vajrayana teachings and where the monks perform tantric worship.
Dressed in colourful bright brocades with vibrantly decorated and richly adorned papier-mÃ¢chÃ© masks (some extending over 1 metre in height) the dancers simulate combat between good spirits and evil demons to a cacophony of drums, cymbals and long horns. The crowd breaks into uproarious song, and evil is destroyed by the leader of the black hat dancers signifying that good has prevailed.