Naropa Festival concludes in Ladakh

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Srinagar, Sep 24: The five-day Naropa Festival of 2018, one of the Himalayan region’s biggest festivals, just ended with a spectacular display of cultural events ranging from traditional dance performances to pop concerts by prominent artists. Headlining the festival were Bollywood singers Sonu Nigam, Kailash Kher, Papon, Aditi Singh Sharma and Akriti Kakar, who performed to massive crowds in one of the highest altitude concert venues in the world.
The program of Naropa Festival 2018 included a wide range of events. Setting the tone of the festival, Ladakh native His Eminence Drukpa Thuksey Rinpoche led prayers for the wellness of all living beings on the opening day. This was followed by cultural performances, an archery competition, fashion shows, and concert performances by both Himalayan and Bollywood artists as a tribute to Naropa –the Indian Scholar-Saint, who ushered in several cherished pillars Buddhist philosophy. Naropa emphasized the importance of experiential knowledge in one’s journey through life.
The festival officially kicked off on 16 September with the unveiling of Naropa’s “Crown Ornament,” along with a set of ancient spiritual relics of Buddhist tradition. These rarely-seen holy artefacts were on display for all five days of the festival, drawing large crowds and pilgrims. The “Crown Ornament” on display was one of Naropa’s famed Six Bone Ornaments (Crown, Necklace, Earrings, Bracelets, Seralkha and Apron); it is one of the most revered Buddhist relics, and it is believed to be an offering to Naropa by the ‘Dakinis’ at the time of his enlightenment in Ladakh.
Attendees of this formal affair included the Honourable Chief Executive Councillor LAHDC Dorjey Motup (Chief Guest), as well as His Eminences Gyalwa Dokhampa, Drukpa Thuksey Rinpoche, Khamdrak Rinpoche, and a procession of venerable masters, monks and nuns from across the Himalayas and beyond. Additional attendees, including the international ambassadors, are listed below.
The festival stage also introduced the inaugural class of the Naropa Fellowship, a new one-year, post-graduate academic programme designed to support the next generation of leaders in India and the greater Himalayas. The Co-founder of the Naropa Fellowship, His Eminence Drukpa Thuksey Rinpoche, gave a speech on the importance Ladakh and its future, congratulating the over 70 fellows that competed rigorously for their opportunity to learn and pioneer ethical development in their communities, while preserving and utilizing their cultural heritage.
Ladakh’s first EDM Album, “Rhythm of the Stars,” also debuted during the Naropa Festival. Produced by young Ladakhi musical talents, the ground-breaking album is a beautiful mix of electronica and the traditional sounds of the region. The proceeds from the album will be donated to Kerala flood survivors fund.
The world-famous “Kung Fu Nuns” of the Drukpa lineage of Buddhism made an appearance on the stage as well. They performed a self-chorepgraphed “Dharma Dance” while Ladakhi students showcased an indigenous fashion show titled, “Incredible Ladakh”. The participants displayed intricate Ladakhi clothing, and their various tradition-inspired looks.
A cultural highlight of the festival was the unfurling of a great Himalayan treasure – the largest silk embroidery of Buddha Amitabha. This immense work of craftsmanship and art stretches 70 foot in height, and exposure is limited only to special events.
The five-day festival concluded with a new Guinness World Record for Ladakh, India. Earning the title of “Largest Ladakhi Dance,” two hundred ninety-nine Ladakhi women gracefully performed the famous dance of “Shondol”. Guinness World Records official Swapnil Dangarikar presented the record certificate to the Chairman of the Organizing Committee for Naropa Festival 2018, His Eminence Khamtak Rinpoche. Former Ambassador (Prof.) Phunchok Stobdan presided as the chief guest of the closing ceremony, which culminated in a featured performance by Sonu Nigam.
Representatives and Ambassadors from around the world participated in the Naropa Festival 2018, including: The Ambassador of South Korea, His Excellency Shin Bong Kil; Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Italy His Excellency Luigi Estero; Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of the Republic of Poland, His Excellency Robert Dziedzic; Deputy Head of Mission, the US Embassy; Her Excellency Marykay Carlson; First Secretary from Embassy of Brazil, Daniel Machado da Fonseca; Representatives of His Holiness Je Khenpo of Bhutan, the Government of Kingdom of Bhutan, and more. Additional attendees included MP Ladakh Thupstan Tsewang, MLA Leh Nawang Rigzin Jora, EC LAHDC Gyal P Wangyal, EC Agriculture Tsering Wangdus, EC Tourism Tsering Wangdus, SSP T.Gyalpo, former CEC Rigzin Spalbar, several Councillors, and religious and political heads.