Dancing Monks

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Ladakh is currently celebrating one of its most colourful festivals of the year – the Hemis Festival. It’s one of the oldest religious carnivals of Ladakh and is held at the Hemis Monastery. Monks get into dramatic costumes to put up a performance that celebrates the victory of good over evil.

I visited the monastery last week and asked a monk residing there about the ongoing preparations. He smiled and explained, “By now most Lamas are out visiting neighbouring villages to spread the word about the festival. Only a few who haven’t yet perfected the dance have not been allowed to leave. They should be practicing in the courtyard at 3pm.”

As expected, the monks with two left feet gathered soon enough. They sang, danced, fumbled, laughed at themselves and danced some more. And just when I thought that this couldn’t get more amusing, one of them removed a small piece of paper from his pocket to check if they got the sequence of steps right. I guess they didn’t cos what followed was a quick huddle, disapproving head nods, some leg pulling, more laughter and another round of practice.

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Other festivals lined up in Ladakh in the coming months – Festival calendar for 2014, 2015.

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Have you been to Ladakh and interacted with the monks there? Got any interesting stories to share?  I look forward to reading your comments and feedback.

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