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    Ladakhis celebrating festivals amidst colors and bonhomie

    Written by

    India is a land of diversities and the variety in food, culture, and festivals here makes the country an exciting proposition for explorers. To many, Ladakh is just a land enveloped by snow-covered peaks and daunting passes. But what they don’t know is that there are customs and festivals of Ladakh that are alluring as well. Know when can you be part of these traditional celebrations, and plan your trip to Ladakh accordingly. There is surely a lot to see and experience on your trip to the north this year, so do not forget to carry your camera along.

    12 Vibrant Festivals Of Ladakh 2020

    Ladakh is known for its interesting festivals and colorful celebrations. Let’s peep into the 10 most popular Ladakh festivals 2020 to know all about the rich and colorful culture of the land of high passes.

    • Losar: Welcoming The New Year
    • Sindhu Darshan: Celebrating The Existence Of Indus
    • Hemis Tsechu: A Cultural Extravaganza
    • Ladakh Festival: Harvest Symbolizes Prosperity
    • Yuru Kabgyat: Victory Of Good Over Evil
    • Phyang Tsedup: Remembering The Oracles
    • Thiksey Gustor: Honoring The Victors
    • Dosmoche: Celebrating Virtue
    • Matho Nagrang: Of Oracles And Their Blessings
    • Stok Guru Tsechu: The Festival Of Commons
    • Saka Dawa Festival: The Holiest Buddhist Holiday
    • Tak Tok Festival: The Festival Of Dancing Lamas

    1. Losar: Welcoming The New Year

    People of Ladakh celebrating Losar together

    Image Source

    Where: Across Leh-Ladakh

    When: December

    One of the most popular festivals of Ladakh is Losar – a medley of cultural events, rituals, and performances. Holy fire, the chant of mantras, and colorful robes set the tone for the celebrations for the Losar festival in Ladakh that falls mostly in the month of December as per the Tibetan calendar.

    Key attractions: Stage fight between the good and the evil, ibex deer dance

    Losar 2019 date: 30th December

    Must Read: 15 Winter Festivals In India You Must Attend

    2. Sindhu Darshan: Celebrating The Existence Of Indus

    People of Leh dance together to celebrate Sindhu Darshan festival

    Image Source

    Where: Banks of river Sindhu at Shey Manila in Leh

    When: June

    Sindhu Darshan celebrated on Guru Purnima, is another vibrant extravaganza of Ladakh. Through this festival, the natives commemorate the Indus River as they believe that the river plays a key role in maintaining harmony and unity among various ethnic groups and communities of India.

    The 3-day festival is also a way of paying respect to the brave Indian soldiers who endanger their lives to save ours. Which makes

    Key attractions: Buddhist prayers by senior lamas that commence the festival, and cultural programs by renowned artists

    Sindhu Darshan 2020 dates: 12th June 14th June

    3. Hemis Tsechu: A Cultural Extravaganza

    Colorful celebrations of Hemis Tsechu festival in Leh

    Image Source

    Where: Hemis monastery

    When: July

    Hemis Tsechu is another of the most awaited festivals in Ladakh that stretches over two days. It features a series of mask dances by the lamas of Hemis monastery and concludes with a sacrificial offering on the last day.

    Key attractions: The highlight of the festival remains colorful masks and fine silk costumes worn by the dancers that represent guardian divinities to which Hemis belongs. Every dance move has relevance and depicts the magical feats of Padmasambhava – an 8th-century Indian Buddhist master – in his eight manifestations to defeat the enemies of Buddhism.

    Hemis Tsechu 2020 dates: 11th July 12th July

    Suggested Read: 10 Homestays In Ladakh: The Finest Gems Of Ladakhi Hospitality And Traditions

    4. Ladakh Festival: Harvest Symbolizes Prosperity

    Ladakhis celebrating the harvest season

    Image Source

    Where: Across Leh

    When: September

    Ladakh festival is one of the most popular festivals in Ladakh that showcases the cultural diversity of various regions. Performers come from all parts of Ladakh and celebrate with utmost joy and opulence. Displaying a wide array of dance programs, traditional music performances, and colorful robes all around, Ladakh festival makes for one of the must-attend festivals of Ladakh.

    Spanning over a duration of almost two weeks, the festival comes to an end at the polo ground in Leh. During this time, the religious procession crosses over from one monastery to the other, as people dance and celebrate the harvest season.

    Key attractions: Archery, polo, masked dances, and concert

    Ladakh festival 2020 dates: 22nd September 25th September

    P.S. If you’re a photographer or a culture enthusiast, we suggest at least stay to see a week of the 15-day celebrations. For a comfortable stay, find a budget option among hotels in Leh Ladakh.

    5. Yuru Kabgyat: Victory Of Good Over Evil

    Three buddhist monks in Ladakh

    Where: Lamayuru monastery

    When: July

    The mystical beauty of Lamayuru monastery accompanied by the celebration of Yuru Kabgyat makes it a prime attraction for travelers in the month of July. It is a 2-day Leh Ladakh festival that brings together the people of Lamayuru where they imitate the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism by singing and dancing in a traditional pattern.

    The highlights of these dance dramas are the religious teachings of Buddha, and colorful ethnic garments donned by the monks during the festival.

    Key attraction: The sacred ritual of the demolition of the statue to mark the liberate the inner demons is the highlight of the festival.

    Lamayuru 2020 dates: 29th July 30th July

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    6. Phyang Tsedup: Remembering The Oracles

    Ladakhis wearing silk costumes and mask celebrate Phyang in Leh

    Image Source

    Where: Phyang monastery

    When: July August

    Phyang Tsedup festival commemorates the teachings of Lord Buddha through festive celebrations. Monks don bright and colorful silk costumes, perform the sacred mask dance and offer prayers. Dramas or ‘Chhams’ are performed to instill the teachings of Buddha amid high spirits and cheerfulness.

    Followers also perform a pilgrimage to Thangka of Skyabje Gombo, which is considered an important ritual of this Leh Ladakh festival.

    Key attraction: Display of paintings inside the monastery

    Phyang 2020 dates: 11th July 12th July

    Must Read: Ladakh In April: When Your Adventurous Heart Yearns For The Himalayas!

    7. Thiksey Gustor: Honoring The Victors

    Locals in Ladakh celebrating Gustor in high spirits

    Where: Monasteries of Thiksey, Spituk, and Karsha

    When: Different months for each monastery

    Gustor is transliterated as ‘sacrificing the 29th date’. The 2-day festival starts with chants and charms offered to god by the monks residing at the monastery. This is one of the much loved Ladakh festivals that reinstates the fact that all bad things must come to an end.

    Key attraction: The second day comprises of the sacred ritual performed by the ‘Black Hat Dancers’ and a dough cutting ceremony of the sacrificial cake. It marks the end of the festival proceedings.

    Karsha Gustor 2020 dates: 27th October 28th October

    Suggested Read: 6 Colorful Festivals In Bhutan

    8. Dosmoche: Celebrating Virtue

    Masked dancers performing a sacred ritual during the festival

    Image Source

    Where: All over Leh, Likir, Diskit monasteries

    When: February

    Started by Ladakh royals, the Dosmoche is a popular festival of Ladakh that is celebrated to ensure the safety and well-being of people living there. It is a congregation of Ladakhis masked in a fancy disguise and performing the sacred dance together. The festival goes on for two days.

    Key attractions: The lamas from monasteries who are the experts in tantric practice and astrology prepare Thread Crosses an offering that is believed to drive away all the evil spirits and demonic forces

    Dosmoche 2020 dates: 2nd February 3rd February

    9. Matho Nagrang: Of Oracles And Their Blessings

    Masked dancers perform at Matho monastery in Leh

    Where: Matho monastery

    When: March; on the fifteenth day of the first month of the Tibetan calendar

    Matho Nagrang is a two-day affair that sees monks dressed like various Ladakhi God and Goddesses. Their attire comprises silk robes and masks.

    Matho Nagrang is a huge attraction among locals as it sees the return of two oracles who spend a month meditating in isolation. They are accompanied by masked dancers as they make their coveted appearance.

    Key attractions: The return of the monks and the performances

    Matho Nagrang 2020 dates: 18th February – 19th February

    Suggested Read: Ladakh In April: When Your Adventurous Heart Yearns For The Himalayas!

    10. Stok Guru Tsechu: The Festival Of Commons

     Ladakhis offering prayer to deities on the eve of Stok Guru Tsechu

    Image Source

    Where: Stok and Spituk monastery

    When: February-March; one week prior to Matho Nagrang festival of Matho Monastery

    The pride of Stok monastery, Stok Guru Tsechu is a 2-day celebration that begins on a ninth day right after the Tibetan New Year, which is why it is such a popular festival of Ladakh. Prayers, dance (Cham by Lamas), music, and food are common sights during the festival, and unlike other monasteries, most of the rituals are performed by the common people.

    Key attractions: Pretty much on the lines of Matho Nagrang, the key attractions of Stok Guru Tsechu are the two commoners chosen by Lamas, who are properly cleaned and prepared to receive the spirit of the deities. Masked dances by the priests add to the frolic.

    Stok Guru Tsechu 2020 dates: 15th February 17th February

    11. Saka Dawa Festival: The Holiest Buddhist Holiday

    saka dawa celebration

    Where: All over Ladakh

    When: June

    Being one of the famous festivals of Ladakh, Saka Dawa is observed as the holiest Buddhist holiday. It is celebrated every year during the fourth month of the Tibetan calendar, which is believed to be the time of the birth of Buddha and his attainment of Nirvana.

    Key attractions: During the festival, people can be seen reciting mantras, doing sadhanas, and protecting animals for the prestigious enlightenment of Sakyamuni.

    Saka Dawa 2020 date: 17th June

    12. Tak Tok Festival: The Festival Of Dancing Lamas

    mask dance in leh

    Where: In Tak Tok Gompa, Leh

    When: July

    One of the main festivals of Ladakh, Tal Tok is a must-see celebration. It is celebrated at a cave of the Tak Thok Gompa in Leh on the 10th day of the 5th month. You can witness a lot of cultural programs throughout the day and end the evening with a well-organized feast. Do wear ethnic clothes this day if you wish to experience it like a local.

    Key attraction: The day witnesses the dance of the lamas, mask dances, and the religious offerings made to the lord.

    Tak Tok 2020 date: 10th July

    Further Read: 11 Best Things To Do In Ladakh That You Can’t Afford To Miss!

    Leh-Ladakh isn’t just about mesmerizing escapades and imposing mountain frontiers in the north. Rather it’s the contentment and celebration of every day of existence that comes naturally to them. Go on and seek happiness in the festivals of Ladakh on your next trip! Plan your trip to Ladakh with TravelTriangle now!


    Frequently Asked Questions About Ladakh Festivals 2020

    Q. What is the national festival of Ladakh?

    A. The Saka Dawa Festival is the main festival of Ladakh. It is considered to be the holiest Buddhist holiday in this place.

    Q. What is Ladakh famous for?

    A. Ladakh is popular amongst travelers for its breathtaking landscapes, clear and striking blue skies, the world’s highest mountain passes, exciting adventure activities, peaceful Buddhist Monasteries, colorful handicrafts, rich culture, and the many festivals celebrated in Ladakh.

    Q. What is the food of Ladakh?

    A. The staple food of the Ladakhi people is mostly comprised of Sku and Thukpa (made out of wheat flour), Pava (made from sattu) as well as Khambir (local Ladakhi bread). The natives also consume a lot of meat (mutton and chicken) to combat the cold climate.

    Q. What language do they speak in Ladakh?

    A. Bhoti (or Bodhi) is the official Ladakhi language. It’s essentially a Tibetic language that is spoken widely in the Ladakh region of India. Hindi is also widely spoken here, so Indian tourists would not have a problem with communication in this region.

    Q. What is the culture of Ladakh?

    A. Ladakh has a rich and colorful culture that is centered around their belief system and the practices of Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism, which happens to be the predominant religion here. You’ll find the roots of the purest traditional Tibetan societies here since China’s invasion of Tibet in the 1950s. Try to attend any famous festival of Ladakh when you’re here to understand its culture better.

    Q. What are the festivals of Ladakh?

    A. Some of the most famous festivals of Ladakh include:

    Sindhu Darshan
    Hemis Tsechu
    Ladakh Festival
    Yuru Kabgyat
    Phyang Tsedup
    Thiksey Gustor
    Matho Nagrang
    Stok Guru Tsechu
    Saka Dawa Festival
    Tak Tok Festival

    Q. What is the famous festival of Ladakh?

    A. Losar and Saka Dawa are two of the most famous festivals of Ladakh.

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    Category: Festivals, Ladakh

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