Phyang monastery – Buddhist festival

I have a spare day to spend before i start to climb Stok Kangri. The original plan is to go around Leh and to stay at ease after the incident in Humur.  I am also moving to temporary accomodation in Hotel Yasmin as Padma is over booked for the day. Padma & Yasmin owners are business partners and therefore its easy for Beeky to make an arrangement for me. During breakfast, Beeky wanted to know whether i am interested to attend a Buddhist religious festival in a near by monastery  But i will have company in the form of three French girls. I am okay as the visit is short and will be back soon to shop for rest of trekking things. I will be travelling with Emy from Missouri (working as french language teacher in a boarding school – from Normandy,France), Peggy (working as public prosecutor assistant in Normandy,France) and Stefania (professional dancer from Geneva). Emy and Peggy are childhood friends. Peggy is visiting Emy on her holidays and they are travelling together to Ladakh after visiting Delhi. We are introduced and felt comfortable with their company.

Buddhist festival is in Phyang monastry, which is home for about 70 monks, is located on hill that is about 17 km to the west of Leh. On the day of the Tsedup, special prayers are performed. The sacred mask dance of monks in rich silk costumes is the prime attraction. Along with this, dramas or ‘Chhams’ are the main part of the festival. Devotees perform a pilgrimage to the huge Thangka of Skyabje Jigten Gombo (the founder of the Dringungpa monastic order), which is exhibited during this 2-day festival. This is unveiled once in 3 years in the years of the pig, the snake and the monkey of the Tibetan calendar.

Its crowded and am able to locate a place in front of the ground. The crowd is mostly of  foreigners & some locals.

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After the traditional dance, we went to visit the monastery. It’s yet another monastery with similar settings. We walked through village market and enthralled by the amulets and ornaments hand-crafted by locals. Its a lively market and down to earth festival.

Upon return to Leh, the girls are planning to see a video show arranged by women’s association of Ladakh about future of Ladakh. They invited me to join them and am curious to know the local social life. The video is taken in 1991 by a western traveler who stayed for few years in Ladakh and studied the place and people. Then a comparison is made to the way the consumerism and capitalism is making a wind fall change in modern youths of local community. The once self-sufficient community is in danger of losing it to capitalism. One main reason is the construction of highway and making the place more reachable from main land India. The lady who is involved enthusiastically in the concept is not able to provide answer to practical consideration about the issue.

After the video, I am on my own to shop for the climb but agreed to meet them for dinner. Peggy got ill due to sun stroke and decided to take rest. Therefore we ended having dinner in Padma. The evening went well with a long chat about areas of common interest. Its an interesting day and hope to meet them after i return from Stok Kangri climb.


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