Ladakh has always been a fascinating land for me. The dry landscape, barren slopes, unbelievably blue and clear sky, towering mountain range, undefined roads and absolutely stunning monasteries in the middle of nowhere, Ladakh is undoubtedly a land of endless discoveries, surprises and splendid secrets. I have been fascinated by the lifestyle and culture of Ladakhi people, their festivals, the art and craft, mostly everything . Ladakh is like a distant dream, which has been dwelling on my mind for a long time. All that I required was an opportunity to make my way through the undefined winding roads to explore this magical land in India. As luck would have it, a mail popped out of my inbox, where I was invited to be apart of the Media Interaction with His Eminence Drukpa Thuksey Rinpoche, one of the regents of the Drukpa Order, who was in Delhi to announce about the upcoming Naropa Festival to be held from 16-22 September 2016. This festival is referred to as the “Kumbh Mela of the Himalayas”. This is the biggest and most prominent Buddhist festival in the world, which is a grand spiritual celebration that happens once in 12 years.
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Photo Credit : Prasad NP , With His Eminence Drukpa Thuksey Rinpoche
While having the conversation with His Eminence Drukpa Thuksey Rinpoche, I was informed that during Naropa Festival, The Drukpa Order will feature an elaborate ceremony, where His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa shall don the Six Bone Ornaments that are the physical legacy of Saint Naropa left behind after his liberation. It is also believed that His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa is revered as Naropa’s reincarnation. This will be the biggest highlight of the festival. Later the Six Bone Ornaments of Saint Naropa will be displayed for the public during the festival.
Naropa is the patron Saint of the Drukpa Order, whose life heralded the beginning of a rich tradition in Buddhist philosophy. Saint Naropa lived in Ladakh, where he mastered the “Six Yogas of Naropa.” These are now meditation pillars of Vajrayana Buddhism, and are fundamental to nearly every school and lineage of the greater Himalayas. He has been instrumental in playing a defining role in shaping the culture and identity of various communities. His message of experiential learning and active compassion continue to be the fundamental principles of the Drukpa Order.
During my conversation with His Eminence Drukpa Thuksey Rinpoche, I came to know a lot about the thoughtful initiatives taken by him to educate the youth, preserve the rich cultural heritage of Ladakh, promoting Eco tourism and protection and conservation of environment. He gives a lot of importance to spreading the right kind of education in Ladakh. According to him, the young generation is influenced by the westernization and modernization, due to which the youth is indulging in many bad habits. He feels that the youths are a very important part of the society. They need to be properly guided and counselled. According to him, the future of Ladakh depends on the new generation. So it is crucial to spread the right kind of message and make a conscious effort to make them live a meaningful life.He also mentioned about Druk Parma Karpo School, also known as Rancho’s school, which is the only green school in the Himalayas.
He talked about his prestigious project called Live to Love global humanitarian movement, which encourages tree plantation in Ladakh for a better ecosystem. Not just that, I also got to know how Drukpa Lineage is encouraging women . The gender equality is another significant step taken by the Drukpa Order. While celebrating gender equality and the diversity, Drukpa Order is promoting collaborative action for the environment by this incredible initiative, where around 500 nuns led by His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa are participating in Cycle Yatra, which commenced in Kathmandu (Nepal) on July 3 and it will culminate at Hemis Monastery in Leh.
Photo Credit : Naropa Festival Page
According to Gyalwang Drukpa, “the aim is to spread the message of women empowerment and environmental consciousness, emphasizing the importance of ecological balance amid economic development”.
Photo Credit : Naropa Festival Page
Apparently, the Buddhist nuns of the Druk Amitabha Mountain nunnery in the Kathmandu district are known also as The Kung Fu Nuns.
I got really fascinated by these initiatives taken by the Drukpa Order in Ladakh and can’t wait to be part of the Naropa Festival this September. Around half a million people are expected to attend the grand festival this year, which is going to be a unique mix of spirituality, culture and diversity. It will also feature performances by Bollywood celebrities and several high profile dignitaries from across the globe.
Don’t miss the grandeur of this festival and a rare chance of experiencing the rich cultural heritage of Ladakh.
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