Nepal is rich in cultural and ethnic diversity. Different specific regions of Nepal are inhabited by a particular community each with a different culture and religion, most trekking regions are inhabited by various ethnic groups of Mongolian decent people who follow Tibetan Buddhism. Festivals are one of the most integral parts of their community, they vary from culture to culture in different regions of Himalayas.
Teji Festival: Upper Mustang
Teji festival is one of the most renowned and spectacular festival of Upper Mustang. Teji or Teechi festival, also known as “Chasing of the demons” has a long history, dating back to as early as the 17th century. Teji comes from the word “Tempa Chirim” which means “the hope of Buddhism prevailing in whole world”. A tutelary deity associated with Vajrayana Buddhism, Vajrakila or Vajrakumar started the Vajrayana practice. Padhmasambhava introduced the practice in Tibet. It was Mustangi King Samdup who invited Sakya Trizin Ngawang Kunga Sinam in Lo Manthang and started the religious dance with the practice of Vajrakila meditation. Ever since, the festival has been celebrated in Chhode monastery in Lo Manthang every year in the month of May. The rituals are performed for the wellbeing of everyone and dissipating the negative elements in Mustang. The festival depicts a story of a deity, Dorje Sonnu, who is about to fight his demon father in order to protect the kingdom of Mustang.
It is believed that the Demon father of Dorje Sonnu, Tam Ru, with an aim to destroy upper Mustang starts a water shortage, which in the semi-arid place such as upper mustang is a woe. Dorje Sonnu finally defeats his father and banishes him from the Kingdom, the same story is reenacted in the festival. The festival coincides with the end of dry season in May. It is a three day long festival.
Mani Rimdu, a series of sacred ceremonies is a festival of the Sherpa community, specially celebrated in the Everest region, specifically in Tengboche monastery. The series of ceremony includes dances, prayers, feats and celebrations. Starting from the first day of the tenth month of Tibetan calendar (October-November according to Gregorian calendar), Mani Rimdu lasts for 19 days, but the major celebration is for 3 days. A praying ceremony is held to bless the Mandala, Mani Rilwu (sacred pills), Tshereel (Pills for long life) and Torma.
Yarthung is one of the biggest festivals celebrated in upper Manang and upper Mustang. Yarthung comes from the Tibetan word “Yartung” where Yar means summer and Tung means festival. Yarthung festival is famous for its horse racing. The first two days of the festival comprises of horse racing and on the third day of the festival, the riders are separated into two different groups and they are sent to either Karki or Pocho Gumba. The final day includes prayers, feasts and dancing at the Manang Gumba. Riders aged 16-60 take part in the horse racing which lasts for 4 days during mid-July, and on third day of fifth month of Tibetan calendar. People from all over the area including Manang and Mustang gather around to show their skills.
Mitha festival is an archery festival celebrated in Manang, the festival is celebrated to welcome the spring season. People from various ages and different village come over for archery competition with their traditional homemade arrow and bow. The Mitha festival is celebrated during May.
Lhosar is the Tibetan New Year and celebrated all over Nepal, and it usually falls on February/March. Celebration includes praying, feasting and dancing, people dress up in cultural and traditional dresses and gather around at the monasteries and at friends and families homes. People inhabiting the different famous trekking routes such as the EBC trek and Annapurna circuit celebrate the Lhosar festivals.
Tamu Dhee (Tranhote)
Tamu Dhee also known as Tranhote is a festival celebrated by the people of Gurung communities. The festival is celebrated eradicate the evil spirit and to protect one’s land and farm. People wearing mask and hats made up of feathers of different birds gather and perform local dance and praying ceremonies. The festival can be observed in many places around Nepal like Pokhara during August.
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