Thiksey Gustor Festival, Ladakh
There are many festivals having word ‘Gustor’ (literary meaning ‘sacrifice on the 29th Day’) in their names. They are celebrated to mark the victory of good over evil. These two-day long celebrations represent progressive Buddhism and are observed over the year in various monasteries in Leh Ladakh and Zanskar Valley.
This would be for the first time the Thiksey Gustor festival is being celebrated after Ladakh has been declared as an union territory. Thiksey Gustor is an important festival of Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism. This festival is observed at various monasteries of Spituk, Karsha Nanzkar but mainly in Thiksey monastery which is located on top of a hill in Thiksey, approximately 19 kilometres east of Leh in Ladakh, India.
Thiksey Gustor festival will begin on 15th November this year by creation of a sacrificial cake known as ‘Torma’ and later cutting off (representing ‘Argham’ or sacrificing) the cake and distributing to the worshippers to mark the end of the festival. The unique aspect of this festival is re-enactment of the assassination of the traitor King Lang Darma of Tibet by a Buddhist monk during the mid-9th century. This festival now attracts a lot of domestic and international tourists.
The ceremonies of the festival starts in morning with a special prayer. The festival starts with a ceremony during which a liquid is offered to invite the Gods of four quarters. It is believed that by offering the liquid, the gods come to witness the mask dance. Then a dance is performed by the Black Hat dancers. At the end of the dance, black hat dancers distribute the sacrificial cake, thus marking the end of the festival.
How to Reach:
Leh, the capital of Ladakh is connected with the country mainly by air. Kushok Bakula Rimpochee airport (IXL) receives flights from New Delhi (DEL) and Chandigarh (IXC). Nearest railway station is Jammu, which is 698 km via Srinagar and Kargil but this is one of the most beautiful and adventurous driving routes of the world.
Where to Stay:
Leh has many quality hotels. The Grand Dragon Ladakh, Sia-La Guesthouse, WelcomHeritage Lha-Ri-Sa Resort, Hotel Singge Palace, The Indus Valley, Lakrook Boutique Stay, Hotel Mogol, Hotel Zen Ladakh, Chomal Huts,Hotel Tsokar, The Maitreya, Hotel Abduz and Shaolin Ladakh are few good options.