Once in a Dozen Years
Published: October 5, 2016
STRIKING BLUE skies with fluffy white clouds floating about in tranquility appearing to be almost meditating amidst the chants of Om Mane Padme Hum.
Ladakh, the land of the lamas, was celebrating a festival that comes once in 12 years. Naropa 2016 was an amalgam of spirituality, festivity, dance and music.
The short flight gets you to one of the highest commercial airports in the world, the Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport in Leh. And if you manage a window seat - it is a pure joy ride. The rolling clouds, the snow-caps and views of monasteries tucked away in the mountains, transforms you into a curious child peering out of a small window wondering at the magical world below.
The Himalayas as seen from inside the aeroplane (Photo: Shitanshu)
I was welcomed with a white traditional Khadask by the local youth volunteering for the festival. Many of them returning from the metros for the Naropa festival -- girls and young men dressed in the traditional 'gonchas'.
On arrival at Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport, Leh
(September 16 to September 22, 2016)
It is called the 'Kumbh of the Himalayas' and for good reason. Tens of thousands of locals and travellers had gathered at venue at the foothills of the Hemis Monastery. Prayer wheels spinning away in some hands, while some holding umbrellas shielding them from the piercing sun. We were, after all, more than 11,500 feet above the sea level.
Standing proud, against the backdrop of the stark mountains was the centrepiece of the celebration -- the Naro Palace. The stupa in white, gold, blue and orange, before which sat monks, nuns, practitioners, believers and even skeptics (there to witness the grandeur and the spectacle).
The inaugural day was especially charged with energy. The conch shells and drums announced the arrival of a moment that the people of Ladakh had been waiting for, for 12 long years. The Naropa festival was even more special this time as it marked the 1000th anniversary of Naropa's visit to the sacred land.