Culture of Ladakh: Ladakhi tradition and Customs
Ladakh is a paradise on earth with veritable mosaic of extravagant culture and art. The culture of Ladakh is an amalgamation of various practices, rituals and beliefs, which to a great extend display proximity to the Tibetan culture. The Ladakh cultural tour will help you explore all the aspect of Ladakhi tradition and customs.
Ladakhi cuisine will indulge you in a potpourri experience with the famous thukpa- noodle soup, tsampa or roasted flour and the purely ladakhi pasta dish with root vegetables. The gurgur cha- tea is traditionally prepared with strong green tea; butter and salt and if you are in a mood to celebrate what could be better than a three cheers with the traditional chang- a beer prepared using barley.
The antique ruins of the palaces and forts display Architecture form reflecting Indo-Tibetan style, while the monasteries are truly Buddhist in approach. The Gompass found across this region has one common feature that Buddhist wheel along with two dragons.
During the Buddhist monastic festival religious chanting in Tibetan and Sanskrit are sung which is also the essence of Ladakhi music. The famous mask dance is inspired by the masked carving of the Neolithic era, these dance form narrates the story of wars between the good and the evil, defeating the later. Ladakhi culture also includes the occupation of handlooms, gonchas or velvet cloth is among the famous fabric woven and is used to make waistcoats, boots and hats that has heavy embroidery.
The traditional healing practice, which is an amalgamation of Ayurveda and Chinese medicines, will add on to your extreme fascination as you get on an exploring venture.
Ladakhi Society is the Emancipation of women
The most celebrated feature of the ladakhi society is the emancipation of women, enabling them to acquire high status and freedom in any Ladakhi family unlike their counterparts in other parts of rural India. Fraternal polyandry and primogenitures were common practices in Ladakh until the government of Jammu and Kashmir in 1940s banned them.
Another popular custom of Ladakh is the Khang-bu or the `little house` as per this tradition the eldest member of the family move out with a small portion of the property sufficient enough for him to sustain, takes the retirement and handover the headship to his son.
Ladakhi Proposal for Marriage
The family of the groom find the suitable match for their son and send the proposal for marriage. Once the proposal is accepted, the lamas are consulted to select an auspicious date for the wedding. The Lamas are believed to be the messenger between the physical and the spiritual world and often act as astrologer and oracles predicting auspicious days.
The wedding celebration includes a sumptuous feast, drink chang and enjoy music; after all the wedding ceremonies are performed the bride heads to her husbands house. As far as the funeral practices are concerned Ladakhis practice cremation ceremony of their dead except in a few exceptions when a child or an adult died of smallpox.
All the holy ceremonies are performed under the assistance of Lamba-monks who achieve this status by undergoing rigorous routine of prayers and fasting to purify them for the cause. When they are through with this practice, it is believed that a deity possesses their body give them courage to awe anyone including cutting themselves with knives. During the feats when under the possession of the deity the monk answer only truth for the sake of the entire human race.
Ladakhi Art and Craft: Political Turmoil
Ladakh due to its political turmoil could not develop an identity of its own in the field of art and craft, however an important trading center, Ladakh has established itself as an explicit market for exquisite items across boundaries of Ladakh. Carpets, rugs and pashmina shawls from Kashmir, Persian motif, jewellery from Tibet made of semi precious stone. Thangka paintings, prayer wheels, music bowls are other curios you can take back as a souvenirs.
However some neighboring areas like the village of chilling as been able to sustain its ancestral profession as metal workers and use metals like silver, brass and copper for producing exquisite items like tea and chang pot, hookah base, ladles and bowls. They were descendants from Nepal whom the king of ladakh patronized for building the gigantic Buddha image at Shey. Thus it is appropriate to say that ladakh art could not develop beyond the limited production of everyday items.
Warm clothes are spun and traditionally woven on portable looms. Besides baskets for the transportation, some wooden work can be seen in the production of pillars and carved lintels houses.
In the same tradition are the mural paintings in the monasteries, where semi-professionals, both monks and laymen, toil to keep the walls decorated with images symbolising various aspects of Buddhism. The skill of building religious statues is also not extinct. The gigantic image of Maitreya Buddha was installed in Thiksey Gompa as recently as the early 1980s.
Festival of Ladakh
The fairs and festival of Ladakh has a uniqueness of its own and there are many festivals including the Ladakh festival held in September and the famous Hemis festival held for 2 days at the Hemis monastery itself. The Hemis festival commemorates the birth of Guru Padmasambhava (founder of Tibetan Buddhism). The giant thangka, which is the Buddhist religious mural depicting Guru Padmasambhava is unfurled once in 12 years duration. This mural is elaborately embroidered with pearls and semi- precious stones.
This festival is supplemented with the chhams performance also know as the masked dance. The lamas who in their colourful attire dance in celebration to the foot tappering music of the cymbals, trumpets and flutes perform this dance form. The theme of chhams is from ancient fables and legends marking the victory of good over the evil.
Ladakh cultural festival
The Ladakh festival in September is organized by the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism where a product of cultural extravaganza is displayed. This Ladakh cultural festival includes some traditional sport like polo and archery competition are held, besides this folk dance and handicraft display are other attraction of this festival.
Scapegoat is another popular festival of Ladakh, celebrated in the month of February. This festival is considered to carry away the evil spirits of the old year and the town is thus cleansed and decorated to welcome the New Year. Losar festival is a spectacular event for 2 weeks, this festival hold the practice of ancient ritual wherein the dance of the Ibex deer, stage fight, chanting with fire torch while you pass through the crowd marks the celebration of Ladakhi/Tibetan New Year.