Hello, I'm here! Mask dance festival, Ladakh.
A mask dance figure playing with the audience. These figures appear a few times during the performance and clearly their role is to relax the atmosphere and cheer the audience. In this case the costumed and masked monk is trying to grab attention of a photographer clearly attracted by something else. The other parts of the performance are more serious, when masked and costumed monks perform slow and formally-looking dance. It is called cham - the sacred, religious, masked dance, and this one was photographed in the Spituk Monastery of Ladakh. This ritual dance is performed every winter in this monastery, during the Spituk Gustor festival (the Spituk Monastery Festival). The festival lasts two days and is normally attended by most of the villagers of Spituk, many Ladakhis from Leh and surrounding villages as well as a few tourists. The audience sit outside despite the bitter cold, as the dance is performed at the monastery courtyard. Cham dance festivals of this kind are organised in many monasteries of the region, belonging to various schools of the Tibetan Buddhism, including the Gelug sect, as in this case. In some monasteries the festivals were switched to summers, when more tourist have the opportunity to watch them. Winter, however, is the traditional time of the festivals, as the villagers have more free time at this part of the year and can attend them. This photograph was shot in January 2014. Ladakh, India.
Image dimensions: 4272 x 2848 pixels