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Celebrating 1000 years of festivity: The Naropa Festival, Ladakh

Celebrating 1000 years of festivity: The Naropa Festival, Ladakh

Ladakh! The name itself makes us imagine the mystical mountains, the magical landscapes, the enigmatic monasteries and the chants of ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ . The land of Lamas, Ladakh is always a place whose beauty is awed by the whole world. This land of high passes is the dream destination of every traveller. The culture and tradition of Ladakh, which is still intact and is not touched by modernism, takes us to our roots. The festivals of Ladakh are glorious and royal and this is how the traditions are still carried on and will continue to do so. The proof of this is the upcoming Naropa Festival at the Hemis Monastery. Hemis Monastery The Hemis Monastery
Source : Naropa festival is celebrated once every 12 years. Naropa festival is literally being called as the ‘Kumbh Mela of the Himalayas’. It is rightly called so because, this festival which is going to be held at the famous and ever popular Hemis Monastery, will have almost million visitors from around the world.

Naropa the Saint

Naropa was an Indian scholar who gave new beginnings to the Buddhist culture. Naropa’s teachings are also considered as the core tenets of Buddhism. His teachings spread through India and beyond. Most important of all his contributions is the ‘Six Yogas of Naropa’. These yogas are important for the completion of the anuttarayogatantra, which means the Highest Yoga Tantra. The six yogas are also important pillars of the ‘Vijarayana’ tradition in Buddhism. Naropa started a rich tradition in the Buddhist Philosophy. He is revered as a person who believed in experiential learning. Learning through experiences is what he did and that is what is his legacy. Saint Naropa Saint Naropa
Source: Naropa was born in a high caste, Brahmin family. He was born in a time of Kings and noble men. Naropa could have easily chosen the lavish lifestyle of a king, instead he chose the spiritual path. He had excellent oratory skills and was an immensely intellectual man. Because of these personality traits he was appointed as the  “Northern Gatekeeper” of Nalanda. At the university, Naropa studied ‘Sutra’ and ‘Tantra’. He was a sharp debater and was known for causing no faults in his arguments. This trait was highly revered because at that time , the tradition was such that the one who lost the debate would become the student of the debater and the debater would become the master. Naropa had won many debates, hence had many students.

Legend of Naropa and Tilopa

There is an interesting story of how Naropa started towards his path to enlightenment. It goes like this, Naropa had an encounter with ‘Vajra Yogini’. Naropa was questioned about his understanding of Dharma and later realised that, only one person knew the true meaning of Dharma and could help him find it. That person was ‘Tilopa’ who was also Naropa’s destined Guru in the path to enlightenment.  

Vajrayogini, is a representation of complete Buddhahood in female form, whose practices are associated with the Chakrasamvara Cycle of Anuttarayoga Tantra.  

Dancing Vajrayogini Dancing Vajrayogini Source: After meeting Tilopa, Naropa had to go through the twelve major and twelve minor hardships which broke his misconceptions and also tested his determination. Through these he attained enlightenment. Saint Tilopa Saint Tilopa
Source: When Naropa attained enlightenment, he was given the Six Bone Ornaments by Dakinis. These ornaments are still the most preserved ones and are considered the most important. After this, Naropa spread the tradition of experiential learning and wisdom. His six yogas include milam (dream yoga), tummo (the yoga of inner heat), bardo (the yoga of the intermediate stage), gyulu (the yoga of illusory body), osel (the yoga of clear light), phowa (the yoga of transference of consciousness), and devotional practice. The Six Bone Ornaments The Six Bone Ornaments

What to expect at the Naropa Festival

This year the Naropa festival is very special as it is celebrating 1000 years of its festivity. The festival includes some rare cultural sights which are believed to grant spiritual liberation on sight. Naropa Festival 2016 Naropa Festival 2016
Source: The Thangka of Buddha Amitabha is also displayed for the public to see and this is done only during the Naropa festivities. The Thangka is a religious treasure and is a large silk embroidery. It is a result of some amazing handiwork and is storeys long in height. A Thangka A Thangka The Naropa Festival is also considered as the biggest gathering of the Drukpa Masters and also has performances by prominent Himalayan artists representing the greater Drukpa community. Council of Drukpa Masters Council of Drukpa Masters


Day 1 13-14 September 2016 The 7th Annual Drukpa Council, Meeting Of Masters Day 2 15 September 2016 Teaching By Drukpa Masters From Himalayas & Drukpa Nuns From Ladakh Day 3 16 September 2016 Naropa Millennial Anniversary A Tribute To Naropa -Celebrating Ladakh A Fashion Show & Kk Performing Live Drukpa Kung Fu Nuns Performing Drums & A 3d Video Mapping Specially For Ladakh Day 4 17 September 2016 Public Display Of Ornaments, Teaching & Dialogue Day 5 18 September 2016 Public Display Of Ornaments Traditional Ladakhi Archery Competition A Tribute To Naropa -Dance Of India By Terence Lewis With Students Of Druk Padma Karpo School Day6 19 September 2016 Unfurling Of The Largest Silk Embroidered Brocade Of Buddha Amitabha Traditional Bhutanese Archery Competition Theatrical Performance On The Life Story Of Staktsang Raspa A Tribute To Naropa -Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy Perform With Artistes From Ladakh & Himalayas Day 7 20 September 2016 A 50 Stanzas On Guru Devotional, Essay Writing Competition & Inter-School Quiz A Tribute To Naropa -Vicky, Sivamani With Deepak Pandit & Friends With Rahul Kharbhanda Performing Magic Show Day 8 21 September 2016 A 50 Stanzas Of Guru Devotional & Guided Meditation A Tribute To Naropa- Shakti Mohan’s Dance Performance With Students Of Druk Padma Karpo School & Neeti Mohan Performs With Artistes From Ladakh & Himalayas Day 9 22 September 2016 Closing Ceremony With 100,000 Ganachakra Offering & Presentation Of Certificates A Tribute To Naropa -Shreya Ghoshal’s Concert For Ladakh Day 10 23 September-1 October 2016 The 8th Eco Pad Yatra

Get ready for the amazing performance and the Chamm Dances, unfurling of Thangkas at the beautiful Hemis Monastery. For all other details you can visit the official website


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