Spituk Gustor: (monastic festival)
The two-day monastic ritual festival (Spituk Gustor) is held every year on 28th and 29th of 11th month of Tibetan calendar, usually falls in the month of January. It signifies the triumph of good over evil. The core event of the monastic festival is a highly choreographed ritual dance known as ‘Chhams’ but the prayers and ritual begin on 22nd and goes on even during the main tow-day festival. Monks from all four monasteries (Samkar, Stok and Sabu) assemble during this to perform prayers and mask dances. The masks worn by the monk dancers represent the guardian divinities (Dharmapalas) of the Buddhist pantheon, and the patron divinities of the Gelug-pa order. The performance of the religious rituals is guided by the traditional Tibetan music of cymbals, drums and trumpets. The dances are performed not only to dramatise the esoteric philosophy of the event for the benefit of the lay devotees, but also by way of ritual offerings to the tutelary deities of the monastery and the guardians of the faith.
Yarnes (summer retreat)
The Summer Retreat (dbyar-gnas) starts from the 15th of the Sixth Tibetan Month and ends on the 30th of the seventh Month. Thus, at these times, monks from all four monasteries stay in retreat in Spituk Monastery in accordance with the Vinaya tradition and are not allowed to go outside the prescribed boundary. While remaining in retreat, the sangha community assembles in the assembly hall (dukhang) to perform rituals and prayers throughout the day. From 10th to 15th of 7th Tibetan month a ritual dedicated to Guhyasamaja (Tib. sangwa-duspa) is performed. The sand Mandala of the deity is also drawn during the rituals. Besides, several root texts of great philosophical works and dedicational prayers are recited every day.
Following the advice of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama for need of strengthening education based on Buddhist ethics, the monks of Spituk Monastery and the devotees organized Yarchos Chenmo (summer highest Buddhist council) in 2015. The council was inaugurated by His Holiness himself on 29th July 2015 at Pegon Phagspa Nastan Bakula Institute at Spituk, Leh. The prime purpose of conducting this programme was to impart Buddhist education including, Buddhist philosophy, moral education, discussion on relevance of Buddhist education in modern world and seminar on preservation of Buddhist culture and heritage. The council was attended by monks from 16 major monasteries of Ladakh, Students from different schools in Ladakh and the resource persons, including several learned Geshe, Rinpoches, lay scholars, religious leaders, political leaders and devotees. The monastic community has decided that this event will continue every year on a smaller scale with the support of lay devotees.
Besides the major events at Tsogschen, several other rituals and religious observances take place throughout the year in all four monasteries which includes the 2-day ritual mask dances (Gustor) at Stok Gonpa.