Thursday, January 28, 2021
Jammu and Kashmir


Arts in Ladakh Province


Dances by the folk , to the accompaniment of music, whether pertaining to religious observances or special family occasions like births and marriages are important elements in the life style of the gay Ladakhis.

The Ladakhi New Year is a special occasion for spectacular dances. It is celebrated traditionally with pomp and gaiety, on the first of the 11th Tibetan lunar month. Then there is a great Festival of Leh, held at the end of the 12th Tibetan month. During marriages also the common denominator is music, dance and attendant festivities.

The festival of prayer which falls four weeks after the new year festival excels the latter in splendor. This ten day festival is remarkable for dances and other religious spectacles. The star attraction is the three-day festival at Hemis Gompa for its great spectacle of masked dances and plays by Lamas. 

The men and women who participate in these dances wear colourful costumes, i.e. long gowns set off by special headgear. The quilted skull caps worn by women, their ears covered by semi-circular, red, woolen lappets are complemented by the quaint headgear of the men and Lamas. The songs are so worded and loaded with refrain that these lend themselves easily to slow, rhythmic dance movements.

The so-called 'devil dances' constitute an important element in the social entertainment of the Ladakhis. The uproarious song-and-dance mirth, created by these mask dances, which invariably depict the victory of the right over evil, is kept by the all-round consumption of huge bowls of 'chang', Ladakhis own country liquor. Song-and-dance entertainment, enlivened by liberal doses of chang, mark the finale of birth and marriage celebrations.