The Naropa Festival has been termed as the ‘Kumbh of the Himalayas’.
2016 marks the 1,000th year anniversary of Buddhist scholar-saint Naropa, and the Hemis Monastery in Ladakh is pulling out all the stops in celebration. Naropa was the chancellor of Nalanda university, an ancient Buddhist centre of learning in modern-day Bihar. The Naropa Festival takes place once every 12 years and this year the celebrations are going to be on a much bigger scale.
The festival is slated to start on September 16, when Drukpa nuns from Ladhak, who are also known as ‘kung fu’ nuns for their practice of the martial arts, will be giving a drumming performance. The same night, French lighting experts will project footage of Ladakh’s culture and wildlife on the monastery walls. All events will be open to the public and will be conducted at the 17th-century Hemis Monastery, situated in a spectacular gorge about 45 km from Leh, the capital of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Tibetan-Buddhist festival has been compared to the Kumbh Mela many times, due to the huge amount of people that it attracts. Both festivals also follow a similar theme of spiritual liberation. Among this year’s festivities is the unfurling of Ladakh’s largest silk embroidered brocade, an ancient thangka of Buddhist master Padmasambhava, over several storeys of the monastery.