World ? Asia ? India

Gustor Festival

Jul 2009 (annual)
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The Gustor Festival is celebrated at the Karsha Monastery each year and, like all festivals in Ladakh, it is associated with a special dance signifying the victory of Black Hat dancers over evil.
Gustor literally means "sacrifice of the 29th day". This festival is traditionally celebrated in monasteries of the reformist Geluk-pa order of Tibetan Buddhism. The two-day celebration ends with the dismemberment and dispersal of the storma (sacrificial cake) by the leader of the Black Hat dancers in a ceremony called Argham (killing). This symbolises the destruction of all forms of evil.

The assassination of the Tibetan apostate king Lang-dar-ma, by a Buddhist monk in the mid-9th century, is also enacted by the dancers. In some monasteries, an effigy symbolising the stronger forces of evil is burnt at the end of the festival. The masks worn by the dancers represent the guardian divinities of the Buddhist pantheon and the patron divinities of the Geluk-pa order.
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