Hemis Festival is celebrated at the Hemis Monastery in Ladakh (the biggest monastery in Ladakh) and marks the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambahava (Guru Rimpoche), the founder of Tibetan Buddhism. He is believed to have fought with demons for the safety of the local people.
Hemis festival is celebrated on the 10th day (Tses-Chu) of the Tibetan lunar month and lasts for two days. The festival occurs only once in 12 years (as per the Tibetan calender it takes place in the year of the Monkey).
During the Hemis festival, a two storey high "Thankga," a religious icon painted or embroidered on cloth, depicting Padmasambahava is ritually exhibited. This year, i.e., 2004 will again witness Ladakh getting ready to unveil the "Thankga" and celebrating the auspicious occasion on June 28th and 29th.
People who are touring India make it a point to be in Ladakh during this festival, where they can witness excellent masked dances that are performed to the beats of cymbals, drums & long horns. A colorful fair, displaying some beautiful handicrafts, is also the highlight of Hemis festival.
Usually, tourists land up in Ladakh to attend this festival and later on plan out visits to nearby Kashmir, which is also a paradise in itself.