Sunday, Jun 16, 2024 10:45 [IST]

Last Update: Sunday, Jun 16, 2024 05:07 [IST]

The Hemis Tsechu: June 16 -17, 2024


The Hemis Tsechu is a vibrant celebration deeply rooted in Tibetan Buddhism, located 43 km southwest of Leh in Ladakh, India. This annual festival, held on the 9th, 10th, and 11th lunar days of the 5th Tibetan month (which corresponds to June or July in the Gregorian calendar) honours Guru Rinpoche, also known as Guru Padmasambhava, the revered "Precious Teacher" of the Himalayan region. 

The festival transforms the monastery with colourful rituals, traditional music played on instruments like trumpets and gyalings (ritual clarinets), and intricate masked dances performed by monks. A highlight of the event is the unveiling of a sacred thangka (religious painting) depicting GuruRinpoche, believed to confer blessings and spiritual merit upon all who witness it.

Hemis Monastery is integral to the Drukpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism (Vajrayana), tracing its origins back to Vajradharaand passing through illustrious figures such as Tilopa, Naropa, Marpa, Milarepa, Gampopa, and the first Gyalwang Drukpa (1161-1211). This spiritual tradition spread across Tibet, Bhutan, Sikkim, Nepal, and the Himalayan regions of India.


In the 13th century, Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje introduced the Drukpa tradition to Ladakh, with the monastery later established by Dragon Yogi Stagtshang Ras-pa (1573-1651) and King Senge Namgyal (ruled 1616-1642). Around 1730, Gyalsras Rinpoche significantly expanded the monastery, increased its monk community, and introduced the Wangchogand internationally renowned Tsechu festivals at Hemis.

The Hemis Festival specifically honors Guru Rinpoche's birthday on the 10th lunar day of the 5th month in the Tibetan Monkey Year, celebrating his miraculous birth in a lotus flower in Oddiyana as an eight-year-old child bearing the noble marks of a Buddha. Guru Rinpoche is revered for spreading Vajrayana teachings, particularly active on the 10th lunar day of each month.

During the Tsechu Festival, monks gather early on the monastery roof with trumpets, gyalings, drums, cymbals, and bells, accompanied by burning incense and aromatic herbs, creating an enchanting atmosphere. The festival features the esteemed Drukpa Master, Padma Karpo or GyalsrasRinpoche, and includes the display of a large silk image. Ritual dances commence by 10 a.m., accompanied by music from numerous gyalings and copper trumpets, culminating in a profound connection with Guru Rinpoche. The festival's ritualistic dances depict various manifestations of Guru Padmasambhava, offering spiritual teachings believed to bestow health, longevity, wealth, happiness, courage, and wisdom.

Sequence of Ritualistic Dance:


Morning Session:


1. Setting Limits: the 13 Black Hat Dancers

2. Bringing down Blessings: Consecration

3. The Eight Manifestations of Padmasambhava

• Guru Tsokye Dorje (Padma Vajra)

• Guru Padmasambhava

• Guru Lodan Chog Sred

• Guru Padma Gyalpo

• Guru Nyima Odzer

• Guru Shakya Senge

• Guru Senge Dradog, the Roaring Lion

• Guru Dorje Drolod



Afternoon Session:


1. The Twelve Zhing Kyong

2. Serkyem

3. The Four Goma (Gate Keepers)

4. The Four Lords of the Graveyards

5. The Five Chemchog Heruka

6. The Five Tshog Len (five dakinis)

7. The Ten Great Ging (Heroes and Heroines)

The Hemis Tsechu Festival in Monkey Years (12 Year Cycle) highlights the unveiling of Guru Padmasambhava's sacred thangka, next presented in 2028, alongside other exceptional religious artworks and performances.


This festival attracts both devotees and tourists, providing a unique opportunity to immerse in the rich cultural heritage and spiritual traditions of Tibetan Buddhism amidst the majestic Himalayan setting of Ladakh.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi