The Festival of Ladakh takes place every year from the 1st to the 15th of September in and around Leh. These photos were all taken during this year’s festival, which ended last week. While most of the photos are of people in fancy dress, these are still modes of dress that are still worn for celebrations. They aren’t dusted off only once a year for tourists.
This couple may be from the royal family of Ladakh. Ladakhi women don’t normally wear a veil like this, and the man’s robes and headdress are also unique. The lady (as well as many of the other women in the background) is wearing a perak, or headdress adorned with semi-precious stones such as turquoise, lapis lazuli and coral. Traditionally, women are given one when they are married, and stones may be added or sold off according to circumstances. The perak is fastened onto a hairpiece made out of yak-wool braids, and the whole headdress is held in place on the owner’s head by silver chains and stiff, wing-like ear-flaps.
Ladies in typical Ladakhi finery taking a break before their dance performance.
This was a traditional Ladakhi dance performance. The men’s dances tend to be more exuberant than the women’s, which are quite formal and sedate.
A group of Ladakhi women watching the festivities. As you can see, the peraks are really heavy, as is the traditional jewelry.
Polo originated in the Himalayas, and the Ladakhi version of the game is pretty wild. Sitting in the front row often gives you an opportunity to get up close and personal with the game. Sometimes, you have to move really fast when the players get too close to the stands. However, this tourist doesn’t seem to realize that there’s a reason all the locals have moved up and out of the way.
Well, dang it! Where’d that ball go, anyway?