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Head to the Naropa festival for a glimpse of Ladakh's rich Buddhist culture PowerPoint Presentation
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Head to the Naropa festival for a glimpse of Ladakh's rich Buddhist culture

Head to the Naropa festival for a glimpse of Ladakh's rich Buddhist culture

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Head to the Naropa festival for a glimpse of Ladakh's rich Buddhist culture

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  1. Head to the Naropa festival for a glimpse of Ladakh's rich Buddhist culture Kumbh of the Himalayas: The five-day Naropa festival in Hemis offers liberation by sight and a glimpse of Ladakh's rich Buddhist culture, costumes, dance, music and traditions. The slow cavalcade of monks led by an ornately decorated vehicle comes down the winding road carrying one of the sacred bone ornaments of the saint Naropa from the Hemis monastery, the only one of the six to be displayed at the festival in 2018. Awaiting the arrival is a long line of monks playing the drums, bugles, pipes and an array of instruments alien to all except locals, flanking the vehicle on both sides. As the vehicle approaches, the playing gets more frenzied and the sound more deafening. All

  2. eyes are peeled on the sacred ornaments carried under a bright yellow brocade umbrella. The excitement in the air is palpable. The chill in the air is biting. Eyes water not just from the cold but from trying to take in the bewildering display of rich fabrics, vivid colours, costumes and headgear. The chiseled, sharp features of the men and women set against the equally rugged, stark brown landscape. It’s hard for outsiders, in particular, to take in everything that’s unfolding around them. Naropa is one of the most celebrated and revered saints of the Buddhist sect of the Drukpa lineage. His six bone ornaments are entrusted to the care of the Hemis monastery and are worn once every 12 years by his reincarnate — the Gyalwang Drukpa. The last festival in 2016 was a grand event where the public was permitted to view all the ornaments and seek his blessings. This year, however, is more of a mini – although there’s nothing mini about it — event where only one ornament is available for public viewing. It is widely believed that the ornaments are so blessed that the mere sight would confer blessings so great that they will alter the trajectory of your life and will ensure a favourable rebirth. It is quite possible to achieve liberation through sight, the Khamdrak Rinpoche and the chairperson of the festival said. That’s what explains the presence of large numbers of locals and followers from around the country on the first day of the festival, aptly named the Kumbh of the Himalayas for its staggering exoticness. Wherever you look, local women are turned out in “Kuntops”, a robe of rich fabric, tied at the waist with a sash. The picturesque ensemble is topped with a "Perak", which somehow remains firmly balanced on top of their heads. It’s nothing short of a miracle that it stays where it’s meant to as the Perak weighs a ton. I tried lifting one in a shop in the main market and managed to lift it only with assistance. I learn from one of the local women that the traditional Perak has three, five, seven or nine lines of turquoise, according to the rank of the wearer, with only those belonging to a royal lineage wearing nine lines. Men’s costumes are almost as striking as the women’s – Goucha with a skerag, a sash. Some of the men even have their hair done in two pigtails like the women. Business Standard