The Sindhu Darshan Festival is a three day celebration held annually in the first week of June in Leh. The festival is an effort to promote communal harmony in India as well as to celebrate the contribution of the Indian military.
Legend behind the Sindhu Darshan Festival, Ladakh
Known merely as the Sindhu Festival, small local associations and religious bodies make arrangements for this event every year at the Shey Manla of Leh. The inauguration of the festival has to coincide with the Guru Purnima or full moon night in June. So the date may vary from one year to another; it is usually fixed after consulting the Hindu calendar.
Through the celebrations, the organizers portray the usefulness of river Indus and its importance in establishing a united India. This is because people living in remote areas of the country also travel undergoing the ‘Sindhu Yatra’ to take part in the religious festivities. The government of India also pays tribute to the greatness of soldiers by felicitating them on the first day of the festival.
Customs and Tradition of the Sindhu Darshan Festival, Ladakh
The festival is organized by the joint efforts of the Shia Majlis, the Ladakh Buddhist Association, the Christian Moravian Church, the Sunni Anjuman, the Sikh Gurudwara Prabhandak Committee and the Hindu Trust. It is therefore a national integration program in the true sense of the term.
On the first day of the festival, which is usually a full moon day, the organizers and participants travel to the banks of river Indus. They traverse the 14 km stretch of the Hemis Gompa-Leh road. Fifty senior Buddhist Lamas start the festival with a prayer. The felicitation of soldiers is followed by a special lunch, a sightseeing tour and a bonfire on the mountaintops at night.
Cultural Importance of the Sindhu Darshan Festival, Ladakh
The Leh, Ladakh and Zanskar regions of India are largely unexplored because of the difficulty of reaching the place and the harsh weather conditions. The Sindhu Darshan Festival is the best opportunity for visitors not only to celebrate harmony and greatness but also to enjoy nature’s beauty. Visits to nearby heritage sites like Buddhist Gompas/monasteries are arranged by the organizers. Few hours drive in a taxi or bus will take tourists to the cultural sites of Namgyal Tsemo, Stok Palace Museum and the legendary Shey Palace.
A Sikh gurudwara managed by the Indian Army and the Hall of Fame, wherein lies the valiant records of the country’s soldiers, are two popular stopovers as you hike or drive around the beautiful landscape of Leh.
Dance and song programs are also hosted during and before the inauguration lunch in order to provide some relaxation for the travelers. The performances also reflect the diverse cultural practices adopted in India and the peaceful coexistence among communities. Traditionally, all visitors carry a clay pot to the banks of the Indus River to collect the holy water originating from the Mansarovar Lake. Devotees can also make religious offerings at the site.
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