Kashmir- If there is paradise on Earth, it is here, it is here . Persian Poet Firdousi     Jammu - The land of Temples  Ladakh -  the land of endless discovery .........



   Event & Festivals

Tulip Festival

Kashmir has the Asia's largest tulip garden called Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden, Siraj Bagh Cheshmashahi Srinagar, in the foothills of Zabarwan range withan overview of Dal Lake.The festival is held annualy in the month of April when tulips are in full bloom. The sprawling tulips of varied colours make the garden look like a silken carpet with intricate designs. The scene is simply captivating with floral charm. It is a visitor's memorable delight.

Baisakhi Festival

This festival also known as "harvest festival' is celebrated in mid April every year welcoming the onsent of Spring season.The festival is considered auspicious for marriages. The occasion is marke by different fairs.Bangra Punjabi dance dominates the festivity.

Khir Bhawani Festival

This festival is annually held in June at Khir Bhawani Shrine Tulmulla Ganderbal in which Hindu devotees paricipate in scores with reverence to participat in "Maha Yagna" a traditional offering.

Gurez Festival

The festival is held in July every and showcases the traditional folk dances and songs by the Gurez locals besides white water rafting is held in the Kishenganga river and a camp site in the scenic Dawar valley of Gurez.The charm of Gurez in its tradtional form is irresistable.

Amarnath Yatra

Amarnathji Yatra Every year from mid June to mid August this yatra is held from Pahalgam and Sonmarg right upto Amarnathji caves crossing glaciers and mountains.Devotees from all over the country participate in the yatra.

Saffron Festival

This festival is held in October every when saffron is in bloom.Kashmiri saffrom is famous the world over and the festival offers an opportunity to see the intricate harvesting of saffron in the colourful fields providing enchanting view during the moonlit nights.

Snow Festival

This festival is held in early January & February every year at Gulmarg, the winter Games capital of India,in which winter games teams from various states of the country besides teams from abroad participate in snow skiing,snow boarding, cross country. The Winter Games Federation Of India and J&K Tourism Department organise the festival in which local artists also perform the cultural shows.

Urs or annual festivals are held at various shrines mostly in honour of the birth annivarsaries of saints and seers. The prominet ones include: Urs Milad Hazratbal, Urs Peer Dastigeer, Urs Makhdoom sahib, Urs Naqashband sahib, Urs Nooruddin Noorani Chrari sharif,Urs Ashmuquam, Urs Shah-i-Hamdan Khanqah Moulla etc.in which devotees throng in scores for spiritual fulfilment.

Ladakh Events & Festivals

Many of the annual festivals of the Gom pas take place in winter, which is a relatively idle time for majority of the people. These take the form of dance-dramas in the gompa courtyards. Lamas, attired in colourful robes and wearing masks, perform mimes symbolising various aspects of the religion such as the progress of the individual soul and its purification or the triumph of good over evil. Local people flock from near and far to these events.

Festival of Hemis monastery

The biggest and most famous of the monastic festivals is that of Hemis, which falls in late June or early July, and is dedicated to Padmasambhava. Every 12 years, the gompa's greatest treasures, a huge Thangka, is ritually exhibited. Its next unveiling is due to take place in A.D 2004. Other monasteries, which have summer festivals, are Lam (late July/ early August), Tak-thok (after Phyang) and Karsha in Zanskar (after Phyang). Like Hemis, the Phyang festival too involves the unveiling of a gigantic thangka, though here it is done every third year.

Spituk, Stok, Thikse, Chemrey and Matho have their festivals in winter between November and March. Likir and Deskit (Nubra) time their festivals to coincide with Dosmochhe, the festival of the scapegoat, which is celebrated at Leh in late February. Dosmochhe is one of two New Year festivals, the other being Losar, which falls around the time of the winter solstice.

The Monastic Festivals

The monastic festivals are annual events of the major monasteries which the local people eagerly look forward to attending, both for attaining religious merit and as a means of social entertainment. These are generally held to commemorate the establishment of a particular monastery, the birth anniversary of its patron saint or some major events in the history and evolution of Tibetan Buddhism. People turn out in the thousands to attend these festivals in their colourful best, making every event a carnival of colours.

Chhams – the ritual dances

The core event of the monastic festival is a highly choreographed ritual dance-drama known as ‘Chhams’, which is directed by the ‘Chham-spon’, the mystic dance master of the monastery. The dances are performed not only to dramatise the esoteric philosophy of the event for the benefit of the lay devotees, but also by way of ritual offerings to the tutelary deities of the monastery and the guardians of the faith. A select group of resident lamas of the monastery, dressed in brightly patterned brocade, robes, perform these dances in the courtyard of the monastery. They also wear masks representing various divinities, which are mostly found in the form of statues in the "Gon Khang", the room dedicated to the guardian divinities. Some of the dances also feature masks representing famous characters from historical episodes or Tibetan fables. The more fearsome ones represent powerful divinities in their various manifestations, mostly representing the Dharmapalas or protectors of the faith. The dancers, holding ritual instruments in hands, step around the central flagpole in the monastic courtyard in solemn dance and mime, in tune with the music of the monastic orchestra. The ritual instruments and the hand gestures or mudras of the dancers symbolise different aspects of the dance-drama. In between the more sombre sequences, relief is provided by a group of comic performers who jump into the scene in the guise of skeletons and other characters, performing comic and acrobatic feats. These also wear masks representing various divinities and religious or historical characters.

"Dao Tulva" ceremony (killing of the enemy)

As the ‘Chhams’ approaches its end on the second and last day of the festival, the climactic scene is enacted, in which the votive offering, a grotesque human figure made from dough, is ritually cut into pieces and scattered in the four cardinal directions. This figure symbolises the enemy of Buddhism as well as the embodiment of the three cardinal evils in the human soul viz. ignorance, jealousy and hatred. Accordingly, its destruction represents killing of the enemy of Buddhism and the purification of the human soul from the three evils. This ritual is known as ‘Dao Tulva’ and has many interpretations: cleansing of the soul from evils, dissolution of the human body after death into its elements, or a re-enactment of the assassination of the Tibetan apostate king Lang-dar-ma by a Buddhist monk in 842 AD. In fact, the long-sleeved dress and the huge hat worn by leader of the Black-Hat dancer, who executes this ritual in most festivals, represents the dress used by Lang-darma’s assassin to conceal his identity.

Pilgrimage of the deities

The ‘Rimpoche’ or head lama incarnate of the monastery conducts the rites and ceremonies of the festival. He sits on a high throne placed in the centre of the long veranda that runs along one side of the rectangular courtyard facing the huge, elevated gates of the monastery’s main prayer hall or Du-khang. This room actually serves as the green room for the artists during the festival.



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