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  • Writer's pictureLaura Peters

A Celebration in Leh, Ladakh

Offspring tourism means stumbling on amazing events wherever your progeny take you. In 2019, my daughter, Rebecca, arranged our itinerary for three weeks in India to include a stay in the city of Leh, in Ladakh, a territory in northern India. I’ve already written about the amazing Indus River Camp near to Leh, but equally fabulous was experiencing a day of Buddhist festivities.

The video shows people performing Buddhist prostration as they approached the main temple in downtown Leh. They wear masks to reduce the amount of grit they breathe when prostrate, knee pads and aprons protect the fronts of their bodies. I don’t know how far they had to go, but it was clear that there were family groups, school groups, and women’s groups making the devotional pilgrimage.

After the procession, we joined people in the square in front of a temple to watch men and women perform age old dances, some dances considered sacred, to rhythmic drum and flute accompaniment. Everyone was dressed in colorful local clothing. When the music and dancing were over, Rebecca and I climbed the stairs to go into the temple. We were delighted when some people on the porch of the temple invited us to join them and some Buddhist monks for tea and cookies. I don’t recall that anyone spoke English, but I do remember laughing with them and sharing the moment in a warm and wonderful way.

The main thoroughfare decorated with red, green, yellow and blue Buddhist prayer flags, was crowded with people of all ages. Stalls sold food and crafts, as did people who spread their wares on a blanket on the ground. Delicious aromas filled the air from the outdoor cooking.

That evening we had dinner at the Alchi Kitchen in Leh. We ate at the original location in the town of Alchi the week prior, and were blown away by the diverse flavors and overall deliciousness of everything we ate. We were happy to try the new restaurant. We had met Alchi Kitchen’s owner and master chef, Nilza Wangmo, in Alchi. That's where we first tasted chocolate momos. These bite sized chocolate filled dumplings were delicious beyond words. Not too sweet. Not just chocolaty. Amazing.

Since things were slow the day we visited, Nilza invited us to see her family’s Buddhist Shrine. She’s an amazing woman who I would happily spend more time with. And just how amazing is she, you may ask? She won the Nari Shakti Puraskar award in 2019, the highest award for women in India. “The award given by the Ministry of Women and Child Development of the Government of India to individual women or to institutions that work towards the cause of women empowerment.”

Traveling to places with no particular agenda in mind has so often opened me to new and unusual experiences. This day's sensory intensity - visual, auditory, olfactory - will be treasured in my memory.

Little girls everywhere love pink tulle. This little girl was dressed to celebrate.


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1 Comment

Sep 07, 2022

I love reading about your travels. So glad you are doing this!

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