Thousands of metres above sea level, high on the Tibetan plateau, hundreds of Tibetan Buddhist devotees in brilliant hues of pink and blue gathered for the Gedong festival.
Lamas young and old mixed with festival-goers wearing traditional garb to watch the religious Cham dances at the Ganden Sumtseling monastery in Shangri-La.
The Gedong Festival is the most important festival in the region and is held at the Ganden Sumtseling Monastery, also known as Songzanlin, and Guihuasi monastery in late November of each year of the Tibetan calendar. The Cham Dance is the climax, as performers put on masks and clothes that portray deities and ghosts.
Masked, costumed monks portrayed a host of ghosts and deities from the pantheon of Tibetan Buddhist mythology, to the sounds of lamas playing traditional instruments — crashing cymbals, drums and deep, vibrating ceremonial horns.
Tsering Choetso, a 52-year-old farmer, said the true meaning of the festival was hard to explain in a language other than Tibetan, but described it as a chance to “pay our respects to our deities as well as our departed ancestors”.
(Featured image: Children in traditional Tibetan clothes follow the Cham dance during the Gedong festival)