India is a diverse country where people have assorted beliefs and thoughts. All over India a number of festivals are celebrated in every state. One such festival which is celebrated in the Kashmir valley is “Dosmoche” or “Desmochhey”, which is also known "Festival of the Scapegoat". This festival is celebrated at the Diksit Monastery during the month of February in Leh held for two days. The main attraction of this event is the mask dance performed by the Lama's from different monasteries. The monks take turns to perform the mask dance every year during ‘Dosmoche’. The festival is celebrated to mark the victory over the good or the evil. The local people in their resplendent best make a procession as a part of the celebration. Musicians and the Monastic Orchestra add to the enthusiastic celebrations. Large numbers of visitors from near by places visit the Nubra Valley to see the spectacular mask dance.
The celebration of ‘Dosmoche’ is an ancient tradition started by the Kings of Ladakh and was at that time sponsored by the royal Namgyal family of Ladakh. The festival was started during the reign of King Lhachen Gongdup. ’Dosmoche’ marks the victory of good over evil. The mask dances which are performed during this festival at a fixed time also convey the same message to the people. The Lamas are also believed to be very good in tantric practices and astrology and are well known for making the ‘Do’ which is a structure made out of colourful threads. This is an offering which is taken out for procession and later burnt outside the town. All the people gather around when the offerings are burnt and pray to god to save them from the evil spirits and guard them against natural calamities in the coming year. A tall pole like structure called ‘ dosmo; is erected and decorated beautifully with streamers and religious symbols outside the town which is later torn down and burned which signifies that the evil spirits have been driven away from the town. ‘Dosmoche’ is usually celebrated in February and in 2015 it was celebrated on the 8th and 9th February.
The ‘Dosmoche’ is a two day event celebrated with great pomp and joy in the Leh. Leh comes alive in these two days the main reason being the masked dance which is performed by the monks with great zeal and enthusiasm in the courtyard of the chapel. The main attraction for the tourists is to watch the Lamas dressed up in colourful dramatic costumes and dance to ward the evil spirits. The tourists love these performances as it is one of its kinds as it is set against the natural scenic beauty for which Leh is very famous. Though Leh hosts a number of festivals ‘Dosmoche’ is the only festival celebrated by all the monasteries. The festival exhibits the local culture and devotion of the people living in Leh. The people of Leh believe in celebrating the occasion of ‘Dosmoche’ in the right spirit hoping that they will be blessed with happiness, peace, and good health in the year to come.