Celebrate India - Sindhu Darshan Festival in Leh-Ladakh!
This is the fourth time I visited Ladakh and somehow
it still seems to conjure up something new to
surprise me with. However this time there was
indeed something new which made me pack my
bags and head in the same direction all over again.
Ladakh’s image in my head has always been that of
long straight roads, beautiful dry mountains and lots
and lots of Buddhist monks. But all that changed, this
time around. I landed in Ladakh a day before the
Sindhu Darshan festival. And it felt like that song from the movie Tashan - “Happy in my heart, Dil dance
Interestingly, there was a lot of activity and hustle bustle that one does not usually associate with
Ladakh, yet all the fanfare did not seem out of place at all. In fact, to the contrary, the brilliance of
seeing so many colors against the backdrop of grey mountains gave the entire region a magical aura.
“Sindhu Darshan” is a modern festival that got initiated by L.K. Advani in 1997 upon his visit to the
region. When former Prime Minister Sri Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited Sindhu, he was overwhelmed after
touching it and said“Some people queried about existence of Sindhu in India as described in our national
anthem but little did they know that it flows from our soil in Ladakh.”He further added: “Sindhu
symbolized 5,000 years of ethos of Indian civilization and its re-discovery will strengthen emotional
integration of country.”
The Sindhu Darshan festival is celebrated on the night of full moon in the beginning of June. It is
primarily held to honor two things - firstly, the Sindhu River itself to which our country owes its very
origin and its name too (Hindustan from Sindhu and India from Indus) and secondly, (and no less
important) the soldiers who lost their lives during the Kargil war.
However the most interesting feature of the whole festival, according to, was the congregation of
religious representatives of all the major religions in India. There were representatives of Christian,
Hindu, Buddhist, Shia, Sunni, and Sikh faith from all over the country. And there was one particular
ceremony that caught my attention. Several earthen pots were brought from all over the country
containing waters from all the major rivers of India. And water from these containers was poured into
the Sindhu River. I found that particularly interesting because it was symbolic of something much bigger.
Apart from all this, the itinerary of the three-day festival is pretty simple. On the first day, there is a
reception for the participants, and then a ritual prayer offered by 50 monks on the banks of the river
(Their chanting of the Buddhist religious verses left me totally spellbound). This is followed by a display
of Indian culture and an enchanting assortment of performing arts from all over the country (remember
the colors I was talking about!)
Later in the day, the participants were taken for a
sightseeing tour and they end the day with a bonfire at
night (absolutely surreal). The second day features
a pooja on the banks of the river and on the third day
the participants prepare to leave for home.
The ‘Shor-Sharaaba’ of the festival is very different from
that of the cities and is a welcome change to the usual
Ladakh experience that one would get otherwise. I feel
that all Ladakh first-timers should plan a rather longish
trip and include these three days in their itinerary. And of
course, ardent lovers of Ladakh (like yours truly), who are
repeat visitors, should definitely plan a trip to coincide with this festival where modern India celebrates
its own multi-cultural diversity.
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