Thiksey, Karsha and Spituk Gustor

Thiksey, Karsha and Spituk Gustor

Gustor literally means ‘sacrifice of the 9th day’ and it commemorates the birth of Tsongkha-pa, the founder of the Geluks-pa monastic order in Tibet. It is a celebration of good over evil and is held simultaneously in several monasteries over two days.

The Gustor festival begins with presenting a liquid offering to invite the gods to witness the sacred dances and provide protection from the evil spirits. Throughout the festival sacred dances are performed by the monks in dramatic costumes and colourful masks. On the second day, a sacrificial figure made from dough is ritualistically destroyed in a ceremony called Dao-Tulva (killing of the enemy). The pieces are then dispersed in the four cardinal directions symbolizing the banishment of enemies from the entire land.

Like other traditional Ladakhi festivals, in the evening a Storma symbolizing evil is burnt.

The Gu-stor festival in Thiksey Monastery is celebrated on the 17th and 19th day of the 9th Tibetan month. Founded about 500 years ago, the well-maintained Thiksey monastery is about 19 kms from Leh and probably the most visited. The mask dances here are said to be among the most impressive.

The Gustor at Karsha Monastery is held on the 27th and 28th day of the 6th Tibetan month, which generally falls in July. Karsha Monastery located 12 kms from Padum in the Zanskar valley has about 100 resident monks and is the largest Geluks-pa establishment.

The Gustor at Spituk Monastery is celebrated on the 28th and 29th days of the 11th Tibetan month, usually falling in January. The Spituk Monastery has about 100 resident monks and has Sankarand Stok as its subordinate monasteries.

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