New Delhi - A quiet Himalayan mountain village springs to life for a colourful Tibetan-style Buddhist festival designed to expel evil spirits and bring happiness.
The annual Torgya Festival in Tawang, in north-eastern India, is full of colourful dancing, music and theatre.
The three-day festival is held in the courtyard of the Tawang monastery, which is nestled on top of the hill overlooking the town.
The vibrant event was attended by Australian photographers Stephen Axford and Catherine Marciniak.
“There is nowhere on the planet as rich in ancient cultures as north-east India,” says Stephen, 62, of Melbourne. “We woke to the sound of a drum echoing through the landscape, before joining local villagers and pilgrims.”
Guests at the festival, which took place on January 29, 30 and 31, gather in the main square of the monastery wearing their finest clothes.
Monks dressed in colourful robes and traditional Buddhist masks carry out performances that involve chanting, dancing and acting.
There were markets selling everything from food to textiles, and cheap Chinese toy guns bought by doting parents for young sons who were studying to become monks, explains Steve.
“The whole festival attracts people from many miles around. Some people will walk for many days to get there and come from as far away as Tibet and Bhutan.
“Over the course of the three days, the music, dancing and chanting combine to chase out evil spirits, help the crops thrive, and usher in prosperity and happiness for the people.”
The Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, home to Tawang village, sits between Burma and Bhutan and below Tibet.
Stephen says:“We spent three days there and were never bored once.”