Author Topic: Hemis Festival of Drukpa Buddhists  (Read 5297 times)


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Hemis Festival of Drukpa Buddhists
« on: July 08, 2012, 02:55:52 PM »
The Drukpa Buddhists follow the Mahayana Buddhist tradition in philosophy, i.e. the philosophy of "getting enlightened for the benefit of others" and the methods are based on the Tantrayana teachings passed down from the great Indian saint Naropa, who was born in 1016 in West Bengal royal family. "Druk" in Tibetan means "Dragon" and it also refers to the sound of thunder. In 1206, more than 800 years ago, the first Gyalwang Drukpa Tsangpa Gyare Yeshe Dorje saw nine dragons fly up into the sky from the ground of Namdruk, and he named his lineage "Drukpa" or "lineage of the Dragons" after this auspicious event.

This is their Drukpa Festival:

Hemis Festival Celebrated by Drukpa Buddhists with Much Fanfare
The Buddhist Channel, Jul 3, 2012

LEH, India -- The 2-day annual celebration by the Drukpa Buddhists - the Hemis festival began today at the Hemis Monastery, Ladakh with much fanfare.

The festival was blessed by the spiritual head, His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa, and was attended by over 25000 guests from across the world. The courtyard of Hemis Gompa-the biggest Buddhist monastery in Ladakh is the permanent venue for the famous festival which commemorates the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava, the 8th century Indian guru revered for spreading Tantrayana Buddhism throughout the entire Himalayas.

Drukpa Buddhists celebrate the legendary Hemis Festival with great enthusiasm annually. The colourful two-day pageant falls on the 10th day (Tse-Chu) of the Tibetan lunar month. The festival duration is marked as a local holiday, and involves the entire city. Locals dress up in their finest traditional garb for the occasion and throng the festival venue.

On the first day, People from a cross section of societies and countries jostled with each other to watch Lamas called 'chhams' perform splendid masked dances and sacred plays to the accompaniment of cymbals, drums and long horns. Sacred plays accompanied by cymbals, long horns and drums were also performed. The highlight of the Hemis Festival is the Masked Dance, performed by the monks, demonstrating good prevailing over evil.

The performers wear elaborate and colourful costumes and brightly painted masks. These masks are the most vital part of the dance. The dance movements are slow, and the expressions grotesque. The music is characteristically punctuated with sounds of cymbals, drums, and unwieldy trumpets. The monks with trumpets, Rgyaling i.e. pipe drums, cymbals, rounded shaped bells enthralled the gathering.  The entire festival arena smelled heavenly because of incense sticks and other sweet smelling herbs.  The first dance was setting limit or 13 black hat dancers, followed by sixteen dancers wearing copper gilded masks. Then there was the eight different forms of Padmasambhava followed by Guru Padma Vadjra .

On the second day, the monks will continue their traditional performances on various instruments, put on exhibition the thanka-painting of silk patwork of great Gyelsey Rimpoche. The monks afterwards assembled in hall & started the worship of Maharaja Pehara, a protector of Buddhist teaching. At 11 am the eleven Acharyas came out in the retinue of Maharaja Pehara.


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Re: Hemis Festival of Drukpa Buddhists
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2012, 04:35:19 PM »
I enjoyed reading about the Hemis festival. The Kagyupa order is very interesting, consisting of four great and eight lesser sub-orders. The Drukpa lineage is one of the eight lesser sub-orders. This order can be traced back to Lingchen Repa Bema Dorje (1128-1188) who founded Ralung Monastery which was built southeast of Gyantse, near the Bhutan border. The school received its name from an earlier monastery named "Drug" (dragon), purportedly because a dragon appeared in the sky during its construction. This school became the main order of Tibetan Buddhism in Bhutan. (extracted from "A Concise Encyclopedia of Buddhism).


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Re: Hemis Festival of Drukpa Buddhists
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2012, 03:35:52 PM »
Here's a brief history of the Drukpa Kagyu so that we know what this school really is about:

The Drukpa Kargyu school (Dzongkha: ??????????????????), or simply Drukpa [2] school, is a branch of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. It is considered to be one of the Sarma or "new" schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Within the Drukpa Lineage, there are further sub-schools, most notably the eastern Kham tradition and middle Drukpa school which prospered in Ladakh and surrounding areas. In Bhutan the Drukpa Lineage is the dominant school and state religion.

The Drukpa Lineage was founded in western Tibet by Drogon Tsangpa Gyare Yeshe Dorje (1161–1211), a student of Ling Repa who mastered the Tantric Buddhism practices of the mahamudra and six yogas of Naropa at an early age. As a terton, or finder of spiritual relics, he discovered the text of the Six Equal Tastes, previously hidden by Rechungpa, the student of Milarepa. While on a pilgrimage Tsangpa Gyare and his disciples witnessed a set of nine dragons roaring out of the earth and into the skies, as flowers rained down everywhere. From this incident they named their sect Drukpa.

Also important in the lineage were the root guru of Tsangpa Gyare, Ling Repa and his guru Phagmo Drupa who was in turn a principle disciple of Gampopa; as well as Dampa Sumpa, one of Rechungpa's main disciples.

A prominent disciple of Tsangpa Gyare's nephew, Onre Darma Sengye, was Phajo Drugom Zhigpo (1208–1276) who in 1222 went to establish the Drukapa Kagyu teachings in the valleys of western Bhutan.

Branches of the Drukpa Lineage
The outstanding disciples of Tsangpa Gyare Yeshi Dorje (1161–1211), the first Gyalwang Drukpa, may be divided into two categories: blood relatives and spiritual sons. His nephew, Onre Darma Sengye (1177–1237), ascended the throne at Ralung, the main seat of the Drukpa lineage. Darma Sengye guided the later disciples of Tsangpa Gyare, such as Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje (1189–1258), onto the path of realization, thus becoming their guru as well. Darma Sengye's nephew and their descendants held the seat at Ralung and continued the lineage.

Gyalwa Lorepa, Gyalwa Gotsangpa and his disciple Gyalwa Yang Gonpa , are known as Gyalwa Namsum or the Three Victorious Ones in recognition of their spiritual realization. The followers of Gyalwa Lorepa came to be called the 'Lower Drukpas'. The followers of Gyalwa Gotsangpa came to be called the 'Upper Drukpas'. And the followers of Onre Darma Sengye came to be called the 'Middle Drukpas'.

After the death of 4th Gyalwang Drukpa Pema Karpo in 1592, there were two rival candidates for his reincarnation. Pagsam Wangpo, one of the candidates, was favored by the King of Tsang and prevailed. His rival, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, was then invited to Western Bhutan and eventually he unified the entire country and established Drukpa as the preeminent Buddhist school from Haa all the way to Trongsa. The Drukpa Lineage was divided from that time on into the Northern Drukpa, or Chang Druk (Dzongkha: ??????????; Wylie: Byang-'Brug)[4] branch in Tibet headed by the Gyalwang Drukpa and the Southern Drukpa, or Lho Druk (Dzongkha: ??????????; Wylie: Lho-'Brug), based in Bhutan and headed by the Shabdrung incarnations.[5] Ever since Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal appointed Pekar Jungne as the 1st Je Khenpo, the spiritual head of all monasteries in Bhutan, successive Je Khenpos have acted to date as spiritual regents of Bhutan. Drukpa lineage continues to thrive and flourish and benefit all sentient beings. It is supported by the state and given unconditional effort by all involved, from the lowest rung to the highest level.
Nonetheless, the 4th Gyalwang Drukpa Pema Karpo left a prediction that he would return with two reincarnations. His other reincarnation, Pagsam Wangpo continued the lineage in Tibet.


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Re: Hemis Festival of Drukpa Buddhists
« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2012, 03:52:27 AM »
Hemis Monastery is the largest monastic institution in Ladakh. His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa is its supreme spiritual head.  Gyalwa Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje (1189-1258), a main disciple of the 1st Gyalwang Drukpa, Tsangpa Gyare Yeshe Dorje (1161-1211), and one of the most celebrated yogis in the Himalayas, went to Ladakh in the 13th century and established the Drukpa Lineage there.

Hemis has more than 200 branch monasteries in the Himalayas and more than 1,000 monks under its care. It is an important living monument and heritage of Himalayas and its people.

I have posted some pictures of the monastery/festival below.

The masked dance which is the trademark of the Hemis festival exemplifies good prevailing over evil. The Padmasambhava dance shows the invasion of the Ruta demons. It includes Yama (the God of death), Guru Trakpo (the vanquisher of all demons) and magician with black hat.

There is also the display of the two-storey high thangka from the treasures of the monastery. The thangka is embroidered with pearls and semi-precious stones, and depicts Guru Padmasambhava.