Gustor festival is celebrated in various monasteries of Ladakh, such as Thiksey, Stonday, Spituk, Korzok and Karsha. The word Gustor means sacrifice in the Tibetan language. The festival is celebrated for two days, with many rituals, prayers, ceremonies, music, and Cham Dance.
Spituk Gustor Festival is a celebration of peace and prosperity at the Spituk Monastery located in Leh District of the Ladakh Union Territory. The same day, the Geluk Pa Order of Tibetan Buddism founded by Je Tsongkhapa (1357-1419) is also commemorated. The annual festival is a winter celebration that aims at increasing brotherhood and friendship among believers.
It is a two-day festival that is observed during the 28th and 29th days of the 11th month of the Tibetan Calendar. To celebrate this festival, the serene Spituk Monastery gets crowded with visitors from all over the world. If you are visiting Ladakh in the winter, you can visit Thiksey, Korzok, Spituk festivals while staying at Stok Heritage Palace, our hotel in Ladakh.
History Of Spituk Gustor Festival:
Spituk Monastery was founded by Od-de, the elder brother of Lha Lama Changchub Od when he came for the Maryul visit in the 11th century. After that, a translator named Lochen Rinchen Zangpo visited the place and named it ‘Spituk’ which means ‘Exemplary’.
Lochen Rinchen Zangpo who was also known as Mahaguru was a translator of Sanskrit Buddhist Texts during the second diffusion of Buddhism in Tibet. It is believed that he had built one hundred and eight Gompas, a number that Tibetans use to signify a considerable amount.
The history of the Spituk Gustor Festival is not traceable, but it is said that Buddhism in India flourished during the reign of The Great King Ashoka in 200 BC.
Major Attractions of Spituk Gustor:
The main highlight of the festival is the large thangka which means painting of Je Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelugpa sect, which is put on display for the public. People also wait in queues at the gate of the Gonkhang (main temple) to seek blessings from protector deities such as Mahakala and Sridevi (Palden Lhamo) whose faces are unveiled only during the festival.
The charm and enthusiasm you witness at the Spituk Gustor Festival can be felt way before it is observed. The prayers and worship start 7 days before the day of the festival and the environment is filled with positivity of the prayers.
- Cham Dance
It is the famous dance of Ladakh that is performed in every Ladakhi festival. Spituk Monastery also enjoys this dramatic dance form. Lamas wear animal masks (made out of paper or clay) and beautiful headgears that look spiky which are usually in yellow colour. The Cham Dance is a dance form that represents a drama that is based on the victory of good over evil. It is believed that the mask dance began in the 8th century AD in Ladakh. It is performed in several ways. Pair dancing, group dancing, solo dancing, are the ways in which Cham dancing can be performed.
Cham Dance is supported by beautiful and melodious music and tunes of longhorns, cymbals, conch shells, bells, and many other instruments. Instruments may also include cymbals, drums and big or small horns. A small group of 4 or 6 separate from the main orchestra and play instruments during a specific part of the Cham dance.
- Get-together of Monks
The festival witnesses a number of monks from across the world including Sankar, Saboo, Spituk and Stok monastery which is a part of Stok palace, our heritage hotel in Ladakh congregate at the monastery.
- Burning of Evil Effigy
The festival ends with the burning of evil effigies that represent the ultimate exister is good, not evil.
We invite you to stay at Stok Palace, our heritage hotel in Ladakh, where you can get an opportunity to enjoy the festivals and watch them closely.