Mani Rimdu is one of the oldest festivals celebrated by the Sherpa inhabitants of greater Khumbu valley. Celebrated for 19 consecutive days, the festival is observed with joy and full participation from the observant and Buddhist monks.
Mani Rimdu Festival is an annual festival which takes place on the 10th lunar month of Tibetan calender. This year, it will be celebrated from October 29 to November 13. Celebrated in the mountainous region of Tengboche, the festive is observed by the native inhabitants of the Khumbu valley, Sherpa, and Lama.
The Tibetan term ‘Mani’ stands for “part of a chant of Chenrezig” and ‘Rimdu’ stands for “small red pills.” The important tradition of the festive surrounds the sacred red pills. The monks incessantly chant and bless the red pills which are later distributed to the observant.
The festival lasts for nineteen days. Various ceremonies and meditations (Drupchen) take place for nine consecutive days. The final three days of the nineteen days celebration culminates into a public event. The grand finale starts with Monks offering blessing to the public, special mask dances followed by singing and dancing by the Sherpa community.
The final day is when the ritual is concluded by a special blessing ceremony offered only by the Tengboche Rinpoche to the public. During the occasion, the renowned Mask Dance is also performed by the monks of the Monastery.
Preparation for Mani Rimdu
It is divided into six parts or segments;
- Construction of the Mandala -The first day consists of preparations including making the sand Mandala and Tormas (symbolic offerings made of colored butter and barley flour)
- The Empowerment (Wong) -It is the opening public ceremony performed on the full moon day by Trulshig Rinpoche. The sacred pills, (Rimdu or Mani Rilwu) and Tshereel (pills for long life), are distributed among attendees.
- The Dances (Chham) -Chham is a sacred dance ceremony offered for spiritual purposes but public entertainment
- Ser-Kyem -It is a group dance consisting of six dancers who offer spiritual drink to the Earth deities.
- The Fire Puja (Jinsak) -The fire puja is performed in the monastery’s yard to ward off evil and to make offerings to the Fire god “Agni”
- Chhingpa -It is the final day celebration which involves spiritual singing and dancing.
Mani Rimdu is known to have started from the Rongbuk monastery. It signifies the establishment of Buddhism in Tibet by the Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava). The dances performed during the festival refers to the mythological events of destroying demons and evil from the world by the positive forces.
In Trulshik Rinpoche‘s estimation, Mani Rimdu started between 1907 and 1910 and moved to Solukhumbu in about 1940. Tengboche was the first monastery in Nepal to perform the festival. According to Jerstad and Furer-Haimendorf, the first Mani Rimdu in Tengboche was performed in 1938. Every year, it’s celebrated during October or November.
A brief documentary on Mani Rimdu festival.
Everest Base Camp Trek
Everest base camp trek is one of the most popular treks in Nepal. The route to Everest base camp passes through the Tengboche monastery. In Autumn (September-November), many tourists prefer lodging in the Tengboche village to witness the festival firsthand.
If you wish to witness the grand celebration, you can book your trek to Everest for the months of October and November.
Starting from a small town, Lukla, the trek concedes at Kala Patthar 5,545 m (18,204 ft). Trekkers often stop at Tengboche village to spend a night. The Tengboche monastery receives almost 600 visitor in a week during the Autumn season and 15,000 visits a year.