Monday, 9 November 2009

Tim Chong: Hemis Festival

Hemis Tsechu 2008 from Tim Chong on Vimeo.

Hemis Tsechu is a festival commemorating the birth of Guru Rimpoche, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism. It's observed and celebrated on the 10th day of the fifth Tibetan lunar month, which usually falls between the end of June and the beginning of July.

The festival is a two-day event held at the Hemis monastery, almost 30 miles south of Leh in Ladakh, India. During the festival, resident Lamas and monks perform a series of masked dances (Cham) which are re-enactments of the magical feats of Guru Rimpoche. Similar to the Cham dances of Bhutan, these dances depict the eternal struggle of good versus evil. When these dances come to an end, an idol made of dough is destroyed by the leader of Black Hat dancers. The destroyed pieces of the figure are then spread in four directions.

This is the well-done documentary work of Tim Chong, a senior photo sub-editor/photographer for the Reuters Global Pictures Desk based in Singapore.

Note: For more of the tsechu dances, visit Cham!, a multimedia gallery of my own photographs made during last year's Bhutan Photo~Expedition.