Everyone we’d spoken to over the last week or so here said that Buddha Jayanthi would be a good time to be in Kaza because there would be plenty of performances and music and dance from all around the valley. So we were pretty excited and woke up unusually early just to get to the monastery on time and find a good place. But when we got there, there was just a bunch of speechification happening, and an announcement that said that the cultural programs would begin only after two in the afternoon.
Some instinct told us that we should hang around there nevertheless, so we just did a quick breakfast and headed back to the monastery. Which was a good thing because around noon, the cham, the masked dance that is done by monks, began. Just before we managed to get into one of the monastery rooms and watch the monks get ready for the performance.
The actual dance was going to be performed by mostly the young monks, with the older ones chanting and playing the instruments.
Here are some photos of the actual performance.
There were about three thousand people gathered in the Kaza monastery by the time the performance happened – of them a handful of tourists like us, but mostly Spitians from all over the valley. In the morning there were many women who were handing out free puris and chai to everyone. And for lunch, the monastery had arranged quite a yummy spread, also free. Just when we were done, there was an announcement cancelling all of the afternoon’s programs because of a death in Kaza. So that was a bit of a bummer. We found out later that when someone dies none of the family is allowed to sing for a whole year. And since it’s a small valley and everyone is kind of related to everyone is some way or the other, they had to cancel all the programs. Of course only the immediate family follows the no singing rule strictly, but as a mark or respect everyone usually stays quiet for at least a short while.