karsha gustor ladakh
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The Karsha Gustor is a festival of the monks of the Karsha Monastery, situated on the Zanskar mountain ranges. It lasts for two days in the summer months and is celebrated by the monks of the Yellow Hat Order or the ‘Gelupka’ order, who established the Karsha Monastery. The Karsha Gustor festival is renowned for its vibrant display of colourful activities, including various dances and drama.
The Karsha Monastery is the most culturally significant and largest monastery in the Zanskar range. While you enjoy the cultural activities at the Karsha Gustor Festival, you cannot ignore the history and rich heritage of this site. The Karsha monastery itself has superior ancient carvings engraved upon it. The oldest structure of this monastery, the Avalokiteshvara temple, displays wall paintings of a bygone prosperous era.
The Karsha Gustor festival is renowned for its enrapturing cultural activities, including various dances and drama. This festival is sure to leave you enchanted by the mystical customs, energetic dances, and spiritual chants. The dancer’s graceful movements are accompanied by the rhythmic chants of the monks, create an atmosphere of contrasts, possessing both vibrancy and spirituality, two things are seldom seen together.
The beginning of the event is marked by the preparation of the sacrificial cake called Storma, a symbolic representation of evil forces. This cake is then burnt to depict the triumph of good over evil. The fiery dancers depict historical events that occurred in Ladakh. It includes the atrocities and heinous acts committed by Lhang Dar-Ma, and the triumph of the Gelupkas from his subsequent killing by a Gelupka monk in the nineteenth century. They portray various incidents of treachery, cowardice, jealousy, sin, and evil, and the final victory of good over evil.
The most awaited event is that of the spell-binding Black Hat Dance. The Tibetan branch of Buddhism has 8 Dharmapalas or divine entities. These divinities are a representation of goodness, but they look ferorocios so as to instils fear in the minds of evil people and drive away thoughts of sin. A masked dance is performed as a tribute to the Dharmapalas, the protectors of Buddhists.
The Karsha Gustor festival symbolises the victory of good over evil. It is an indicator of progressive Buddhism and also celebrates the birthday of Tsongkha-Pa, the founder of the Gelupka order. The Gustor also signifies the sacrifice on the 29th day.
The Karsha Gustor is a boiling pot of Ladakh’s Buddhist traditions and culture. The chanting of the priests infuses this occasion with spiritual vibes, conducive for self-discovery. The stories that are narrated through the dance-dramas are a retelling and commemoration of the rich heritage of the predecessors of the Buddhist monks who now live in the monastery. The Karsha Gustor is a perfect synthesis of spirituality, tradition, culture, and history. Hence, anyone who wishes to experience the peace and tranquility of Buddhism, coupled with the enchanting performances, must attend this event.
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