Mani Rimdu Festival is celebrated at Tengboche, Thame and Chiwong Monastery of Solukhumbu Nepal. This is a sacred ceremonies and series of events of empowerment. It is a sequence of nineteen days celebration, which concludes with three days public festival. Sherpa get time to gather and celebrate this festival with monastic community. Lamas and Sherpa gather at the monastery for five days for the welfare of the world. Demons are quelled and the virtuous are rewarded. The monks wear elaborate mask, costumes’ and through a series ritualistic Lama dances, dramatize the triumph of Buddhism over Bon, The main first days of festival involves prayers, second day for colorful lama dancing, they wear brocade gown and wonderfully painted papier-mâché masks. Last day is for some humorous dances and chanting prayers. Hundred of local people and foreign tourist attend the performance. This trek rewards you to see the real and ideal culture of Sherpa people and great Himalayan picturesque views.
When is Mani Rimdu for the year 2023?
The date of the Mani Rimdu festival is fixed according to the Tibetan Lunar calendar. The head lama at the Tyangboche Monastery announces the dates after the Tibetan New year. In Tengboche the Mani Rimdu is performed in the 9th Tibetan month which usually falls in October or November full-moon. For the year 2023, the festival will be celebrating on 28th, 29th and 30th October in 2023.
Mani Ramdu is divided into six Preparations:
Construction of the Sand Mandala
Sand mandala is constructed step by step. Colored sand is used to build complicated and symbolic design. Sand mandala takes many days to complete. Defensive blade symbolizing deities are placed around the Mandala. The bowl of Mani Rilwu pills (spiritual medicine) is placed above the center. The Mandala symbolizes the palace of Garwang Thoze Chenpo (Lord of the Dance). Creation of the Buddha of Kindness, the main idol of Mani Rimdu. The mantra "OM AH HUNG RHI, OM MANI PADME HUMG” is repeated thousands of times by the monks during the weeks of ceremony before the public festival. During meditation, they imagine kindness flowing in the form of the mantra, into the Mandala and the Mani Rilwu pills. Kindness then releases out from the Mandala, blessing all those who attend the Mani Rimdu festival.
Wong (The Empowerment)
The Wong is the opening day of public ceremony. It´s performed on the full moon day, of the tenth month in the Tibetan lunar calendar. The sacred Mani Rilwu (sacred or blessed pills) and Tshereel (pills for long life), are given to everyone attending.
Chham (The Mask Dances)
The dances take place on the 2nd day of Mani Rimdu.Symbolic demons are conquered, chase away, or transformed to Protectors of Dharma. As the theme of the dance positive forces fight with those of disorder through the dances. The dances convey Buddhist teaching on many levels from the simplest to the most philosophical. During the dance the monks are believed to become divine being. The dances are only performed during Mani Rimdu because they are considered to be very Sacred, and not for ordinary entertainment.
Ser-Kyem is most commonly used to make tea offerings to Dharma guards such as Mahakala. It has two pieces: a larger raised dish-shaped bowl and a smaller raised offering bowl. The smaller is placed in an upright position in the larger dish when the offering is being made. When not in use, the smaller offering bowl is placed upside down in the larger bowl. The food offerings can also be placed in the larger dish when in use.This offering of spiritual nectar is made in many ceremonies. The six dancers represent Ngag-pa, Tantric magicians.
They make offerings of alcohol from silver vessels, and small tormas, to the Lama, Yidam, Khandro, and Shi-Dak (the Earth deities). A Buddhist consultant takes ‘refuge’ in the Lama (spiritual guide), Yidam (personal deity) and Khandro (wisdom dakini). A central theme in Tibetan Buddhist practice is to make offerings to these beings, so that they will help with the virtuous actions which lead to Buddhahood.
The Fire Puja (Jinsak)
The Fire Puja is performed in the yard the day after the dances. The Fire Puja is an offering to Agni (the god of fire), and to the Gods of the mandala - to allay all harm in the world. The harm is visualized as dissolving into the grain and butter is burned.
Afterwards, the sand mandala in the temple is pull to pieces, and the sand is given as an offering to the serpent gods (Nagas).
The next dance portrays the Four Protecting Ghings, defending the Buddhist faith against attack by demons. Shining paper masks hide the faces of the dancers, each a different color and each displaying a constant smile. The dancers´ hops are rhythmically accompanied by the beating of cymbals.The dancers charge at children in the audience and scare them as for fun.
The Dakini dance is performed genially. Slow motion dance steps, keeping perfect time with the soft tinkle and slow beat of bells and drums is performed by five young priests. The dancers are without masks, and portray female spiritual figures; the partners of Padmasambhava. It is believed that they come from his pure land of Shangdok Palri where they live within his mandala. They herald the imminent arrival of Guru Rinpochhe at the Mani Rimdu.Two of the Ghing are male, and carry cymbals, while the two females carry drums. The males represent skillful means and the female represent wisdom; these two aspects of the path The torma is made from barley flour and decorated with colored butter. It begins by symbolizing the body of the deity, and by the end of the ceremony, symbolizes enlightenment itself. It stands in the front of the mandala on its own shrine, at the very heart of the temple.
This trek can be combined with Everest Base Camp Trek, Everest Panorama Trek aka Everest View Trek, Gokyo and Everest Base Camp trek and Everest Ultimate Trek which is also known as Everest Three High Passes Trek. Mani Rimdu festival is also celebrated in Chiwong Monastery in lower Everest region of Solokhumbu