Interesting Tribal Rituals of Ladakh

Blessed with the natural joie-de-vivre, people of Ladakh have very interesting religious and tribal rituals which mark them different from the rest of India. The most important aspect of their Buddhist life are lamas, which are considered auspicious and intermediaries between the God and humans, hence they decipher the oracles, which is followed in every respect, be it harvesting, marriage, rituals or even starting a journey. The Matho Gompa are famous monk oracles continued by a traditional procedure which takes place every three years. Two monks are chosen for this auspicious tradition. They continue to pray and fast to purify themselves in the religious ambience. Later, it is believed that their spirits are possessed by deity Rongtsan, as they indulge in extremely difficult activities like sprinting on the topmost parapet of the Gompa or even cutting themselves with the knife. During this time, they are give answers and solutions to the common man’s problem, something which definitely denotes their higher spiritual connection.

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Along with spiritual endeavors, the tribal rituals of Ladakh related to arts and craft are very famous in the village of Chiling. Here, this ancestral profession of metal work is carried out in its own indigenous style, creating domestic shrines, silver chortens, tea-cups, lids and other accessories for religious and domestic use. The metal-workers have devised their own technology and means to carry out such accomplishments, which reveals their rustic beauty and excellence. Along with it, the common men and the monks come together in creating mural paintings, which denotes the various aspects of Buddhism. They have their own rituals while starting to create gigantic idols, like that of Maitreya Buddha which was installed in the Thiskey monastery way back in 1980s.

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The Drokpa tribe, one of the most historic ones in India, stays in Ladakh and is known for its various rituals and traditions. One such ritual is practiced Banano Festival during summer when they indulge in drinking Barley wine and joyous activities for three days in a row. For the tribes in Ladakh, it is very necessary to preserve their own ethnic and cultural roots and hence, they do not intermingle with the other tribes and marry in their own ones. They can be seen wearing their ethic dress Goncha during the times of celebrations and festivities. Their important tribal teaching includes that since the passes are so wide and the land so rash, it’s only the worst of enemies or the best of friends who actually pay a visit.

The Ladhaki rituals which takes place for 8 months in a year start with celebrating Losar in the beginning of the year, Sindhu Darshan on the day of Guru Purnima, colorful masks and dances during Hemis Tsechu as well as concerts, dances and religious extravaganza during the monastery festivals in September. Each of these festivals have their own meaning and essence, which further helps them to unite with each other, carve out their own identity and flaunt their cultural diversity to the outside world. Hence, every ritual in Ladakh, be it connected to religion, agriculture or oracle reading, has its own significance and is considered very auspicious.

By- Shubhda Chaudhary

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