Upper Mustang Tiji Festival Tour
1 Years ago
Category : Trekking & Hiking
An annual three-day festival in Lo Manthang. Upper Mustang is observed around mid to late May with reference to their lunar calendar. A fascinating play of Tibetan rituals, dances and prayers take place in the land of mystical realms. The belief of good ruling over evil is at the heart of this auspicious festival as well. Tiji, the name itself is an abbreviation of the word ‘Tempa Chirim’ which translates to ‘prayers for world peace’, A part of a mediation practice based on the tantra text related to Vajra Kumar (Vajra Kila), It commemorates the victory of Lord Buddha’s incarnation Dorjee Jone over a demon called ‘Man Tam Ru’, a vicious creature feeding on humans and bringing upon plague and droughts.
The festival begins on a high note where the monks of Choedhe Monastery perform ritual dances. The dance of ‘Tsa Cham’ on the first day depicts ‘Ma Tam Ru’ being called upon and harassed. The second day is celebrated with fervor and a dance called ‘Nga Chham’, it symbolizes the birth of Dorjee Sonnu as the demon’s son and the attempt to return the demon to Lord Buddha’s realm is enacted on the final day.
This chanting of prayers and colorful dances go back a long way, it is believed this practice from the Vajrayana sect of Buddhism was introduced to Tibet during the 8th century CE, which then branched out to many lineages. Only in the 17th century when the King of Mustang invited Sakya Trizin Ngawang Kunga sinam to come to Lo Manthang was it widely adapted in the region.
The special Vajrakils ritual was performed in Choedhe Monastery for the wellbeing of all sentient beings, and also to dispel negative elements in Mustang. Since then, the monks of this monastery have been indulging in this religious dance every year over three days in the courtyard of Mustang Royal Palace. Originally it was performed at the end of the twelfth month of the Tibetan calendar, but nowadays it is performed during the third Tibetan month (mid to late May).
From the royals to even locals from seven provinces of Manang District, come together in unison to take part in this sacred dance. Sacred and holy, no stones are left unturned with the commencement of the rituals and dances. The focal member of the dance group (Tsowo) is to strictly complete a three-month retreat before the main day.
Their articulate and ceremonial performance gives way to vivid visualizations and concepts of celestial palaces, notorious demons and virtuous deities. An honor to witness, it is truly a sight sees nowhere else.
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