Tiji Festival 2019, Mustang

Mustang is the ancient Himalayan Kingdom which lies in the northern central part of Nepal and at the top of the Kaligandaki River. Upper Mustang consists of two distinct regions: the southern part and the northern area where the language, culture, and traditions are similar to those of the Tibetan people. This area is considered one of the most interesting and picturesque places in Nepal. The whole area has an isolated and mystical feel. It is enchanting and inspiring. This region is home to some of Nepal’s oldest Buddhist Monasteries, and, as well, to ancient and isolated villages with pretty white-washed houses.

This trek is a walking holiday/lodge trek.  Our destination is Lo- Manthang, which we reach in 9 days.  The route is through high altitude desert and climbs in and out of the huge Kali Gandaki Valley.  Near Jomsom, the small city we fly into, the Kali Gandaki River has cut the deepest gorge in the world.

In Jomsom, if the trekking party wishes, we can hire horses to ride, hire for the whole tour or only for part. Note, our luggage will be carried the entire time by horses and mules. Himalayan Vacation Treks and Expedition staff will consist of a guide, an assistant guide, and horse porters.

Himalayan Vacation Treks and Expedition organizes this trek in May so that our guests attend the annual Tiji festival held in Lo Manthang. The dates of Tiji change with each year, the date determined according to the Tibetan Calendar by the area’s head Lama. This year, 2018, the festival will fall on May 12th thru the 14th. The origins of the festival predate Buddhism and are born out of the animistic and shamanistic Bon tradition. The costumes and dance steps of the Tiji festival have remained the same for over 600 years.

Tiji is abbreviated form of ” Tempa Chhirim” which means ”Prayer for World Peace”, and celebrates the victory of Buddha’s incarnation, Dorji Sonam, over a demon called Ma Tam Ru Ta. Ma Tam Ru Ta caused storms and droughts which destroyed people’s houses and livestock. The prayer is a dance performed by the monks of Lo Manthang Chhyode Goenpa over three days. The dance covers the harassment of Ma Tam Ru Ta, the birth of Dorji Sonam, who is the demon’s son, and the attempt by Dorji Sonam to return the demon to the Buddha Realm. The role of Dorji Sonam is played by a monk who has stayed in seclusion for three months in preparation.  On the third day, in the ceremony called Rha Chham, Dorji Sonam throws a barley grass dummy representing Ma Tam Ru Ta. It is believed that now, the village will be purified of the evil spirit.