There is a very famous Tibetan monastery in Ladakh in the state of Jammu & Kashmir, India. Known as the Hemis Monastery, this monastery hosts a very famous festival called the Hemis Festival every year during the month of June/July.

This festival is organized in honor & reverence to Lord Padmasambhava, the founder of Tantric Buddhism. This festival is a 2-day affair though the memories stay with the participants for an entire year, until the next edition commences. This festival mirrors the culture & tradition of the localities, and the spotlight of the festival is a special dance performed by masked participants. Unlike the masks seen in Kathakali (a popular dance form in South India), the masks out here can be multifarious in colors, themes & expressions.

The weird masks are matched by an equally, if not more, weird attire. The dance, however, is not a frivolous ritual. It is a rendition which showcases the triumph of good over evil! The movements and steps are pretty elaborate and laidback! Instead of the grace & élan associated with a ballroom dance, here the dancers are quirky, unconventional, bizarre yet organized. Special emphasis is also laid on the music. There is a lot of raucous drum beatings involved. The trumpets too can reach high decibel levels. And cymbals make ear-splitting sounds (Subtlety is surely not the strength of these Tibetans).

Coming to the performers, they are mostly the local lamas. There is a bit of professionalism required since the steps are ritualistic and laced with traditionalism. Each dancer takes a distinct getup which can range from the callous, cruel demon to the merciless Yamaraj (deity who grants death) to the demon-slayer Guru Trakpo

For a tourist or a visitor, it is a delight to partake in such a festivity. It is grand and organized on an elaborate scale. It is also a window into the heart of these locals. Their culture comes to the fore through these performances. If you are a photographer, then Hemis Festival can be a great way to take some lovely snapshots of an obscure albeit mesmerizing culture. Apart from dance & music, food and drinks too are devoured in plent

Check out Some of the most Festivals in Ladakh