The Hemis festival takes place in the courtyard of Hemis Gompa – the biggest Buddhist monastery in Ladakh. It is a celebration of the birth anniversary of Guru Padamasambhava. This two-day pageant falls on the 10th day (Tse-Chu) of the Tibetan lunar month. To celebrate the day Ladakhis dress themselves in their finest traditional attire. Marvellous masked dances and sacred plays are displayed by the Lamas.
Guru Padmasambhava, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism, is believed to have fought with the demons for the safety of the local people. Masked dances are organised to demonstrate the actual event. The dances end with the ritual destruction of a sacrificial offering of a human figure made of dough, by the leader of the Black Hat dancers. The Lamas recites mantras associated with the various episodes of the chhams. The festival takes Tan auspicious turn every 12 years in the Tibetan Year of the Monkey. A colourful fair, displaying some beautiful handicrafts, is the highlight of the festival.