Thursday, 26 March 2015

The Losar Festival of Buddhists in Lahaul & Spiti

Chham or the Devil Dance
The Losar festival is celebrated in first month of the Tibetan calendar which falls between mid-November to the first week of December. This three day winter carnival heralds the coming of the New Year festival of the practitioners of Buddhism.

It also marks the beginning of the winter season in Lahaul & Spiti valley. At the time of the Lossar Festival the Buddhist settlements and the monasteries in Lahaul are marked by the most splendid performances. 

The rich imagery and ritual dances that features elaborate masks and costumes form the highlight of the festivities and celebrations. The worth watching traditional 'Chham Dance' is performed in the festival using elaborate masks and costumes to worship the local deity. It is also called a 'Devil Dance' due to the use of weird masks in the dance.

This dance in the form of opera tells the story of the defeat of Langdarma, a cruel Tibetan king who was killed in the 9th century AD. His death lead to the ultimate victory of good over evil. 

The legend goes that the festival originated in the pre-Buddhist period in Tibet, when Bon was the religion of the people. 

This festival was first of all celebrated in the Lhokha Yarla Shampo region of Tibet as an agrarian festival during the time when the blossoms appeared in the trees of apricots.
Generally the festival lasts for three days, but in a strict and traditional Tibetan family it may last even for ten days. 

The Lama Losar' or the 'Festival of the Guru is the first day of the festival. This day is dedicated to the worship of His Holiness the Dalai Lama', who is the spiritual head of the Tibetan people and huge processions are taken out in his honor.

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