Celebrated along the banks of the river Sindhu in Leh Ladakh region, every year on the full moon day, the Sindhu Darshan Festival symbolises communal harmony and unity in diversity in India. Celebrated over three days, this is a celebration of River Sindhu, the former Indus Valley Civilisation, with the motive of endorsing the river as an icon of communal harmony in India. Initially, a festival to celebrate the water body that birthed life to the Indus Valley civilisation, it has morphed into more than just the celebration of the Indus river and embraces the entirety of Indian diversity and heritage. The Bollywood movie "Dil Se" was shot at the first Sindhu Darshan Festival.
Sindhu Darshan Festival 2020 - Dates & Season
The first edition of the festival was held in 1996 during October. However, all the subsequent versions of the event have been held during June, to coincide with the full moon day, Guru Purnima.
2020 Sindhu Darshan Festival will begin on Friday, 12 June and ends on Sunday, 14 June
Where is Sindhu Darshan Festival Held? Venue and How to Reach
The Sindhu Darshan festival is hosted every year at the settlement of Shey Manla, a town that lies less than 10km outside the city centre of Leh. Dance, music, and art are all performed at ghats that stand on the banks of the Indus River.
There are a few ways to get to Leh; by road, by train, or by air to the closest airport, Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport.
One can get to Leh by road, which always promises to be a thrilling experience, via bike, car, bus, or jeeps. Buses run from both Srinagar and Jammu. There are also bus services that run directly from Delhi, 1200km away.
Alternatively, you can take the train from major cities like Delhi, Kolkata, or Mumbai to the closest railway station at Jammu Tawi, 700km away from Ladakh. The rest of the journey may be taken by hiring a private vehicle.
Flights are available from Jammu, Srinagar, Chandigarh, and Delhi amongst other places to Kushak Bakula Rimpochee Airport. Taxi services can be hired from the airport to your lodging and accommodation.
How is the Sindhu Darshan Festival Celebrated?
Festivities & Events
People spanning the breadth and width of the country come to take part in the Sindhu Darshan Festival. Festival-goers bring clay pots that are filled with water from their native states. These pots are then submerged in the Sindhu river. A tribute to India's age-old values of tolerance and communal harmony, the Sindhu Darshan festival is a 3-day celebration packed with festivities and practices steeped in tradition.
The first day of the ceremony is marked by a reception involving all those taking part in the festival and prayers are conducted on the riverbanks by 50 of the most senior lamas. This is followed by a bonfire that takes place at night. The second day consists of an organised sightseeing tour allowing the participants an opportunity to soak in the splendour of Ladakh's natural beauty.
A cultural program that invites the participants of the Sindhu Darshan festival to immerse themselves in Ladakhi tradition, followed by a puja, rounds off the penultimate day. The grand celebrations that mark the end of the festival attract a large number of tourists. Most participants make their preparations to leave on the third day.
The Significance of the Sindhu Darshan Festival
The Sindhu River is a symbol and icon of India's cultural pluralism, and the festival exalts the colourful, rich, and varied diversity of this country. The first day's reception ceremony is officiated by a committee that is made up of various religious communities, including Buddhist, Shiite, and Sunni Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Sikh associations. The cultural exchange program on the second day involves artists from across the country showcasing their art and their wares.
History of Sindhu Darshan Festival
In 1996 senior BJP leader LK Advani and veteran journalist Tarun Vijay rediscovered the Sindh river on a trip to Leh. Vijay, to commemorate their rediscovery of the river's origin in Ladakh, dreamt of having a festival to celebrate the river on its banks. First held in 1997 over three days in October, it has been conducted annually since then. A symbolic celebration of the embodiment of India's collective identity, the festival celebrates the river that gave birth to the ancient Indus Valley civilisation.
The event attracts festival-goers from all streams of life and communities around the country and is a festival of inclusivity. It has gained a special place of prominence for the Hindu Sindhi community, who used to make the pilgrimage during pre-independence days to worship the river deity that now lies in present-day Pakistan. It is a festival that has come to extol Indian values of tolerance and commitment to communal harmony.
Sindhu Darshan Festival strives to be a unifying thread that cuts through the boundaries of all kinds and reinforces the idea of a nation that believes in the values of communal harmony and acceptance of each other.