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Hemis Festival, Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir

The courtyard of Hemis Gompa, the largest Buddhist monastery in Ladakh, is the stage for the famous 'Hemis' festival that celebrates the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava. Local people are seen dressed up in their finest traditional garb for the occasion. Lamas, called 'chhams,' perform splendid masked dances and sacred plays to the accompaniment of cymbals, drums and long horns. The head lama presides over the function. The festival takes an auspicious turn every 12 years in the Tibetan Year of the Monkey, when the two-storey high 'Thanka' depicting Padmasambhava is displayed.

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