Tiji Festival, celebrated annually in the walled city of Lo Manthang is one of the most important and colorful festival in Upper Mustang. This is an old story about chasing the demons from the sacred land of Lo Manthang. The festival marks the end of the dry season in Mustang. Local devotees gather from all over the Mustang. So does foreigners. Centuries old religious ceremonies will be performed by Buddhist Monks. Equipped with colorful costumes and masks Lama performs several religious dances. This all happens in the courtyard of the King’s palace. The story reflects the war in between deity named Dorje Jono who had battled against his demon father.
Being in the rain shadow of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri Massif region receives a very rare rainfall. You can imagine the importance of water in such dry land. Destruction mode was activated on the father of Deity Dorje Jono. He was trying to destroy the kingdom of Upper Mustang by creating a shortage of water. According the myth Dorje Jono defeats all the demons and banishes them from the kingdom. This entire story is demonstrated by several dances and shows. This is a symbolic demonstration of good over evil. Upper mustang was closed until 1992 for foreigners. According to the rumors Michel Peissel was the first western people to witness the celebration of Tiji Festival. It dates back 1964. We are not sure how he got permission to enter the Kaligandaki Valley ahead Kagbeni. According to the historical kingdom was formed during the 14th Century. Entire settlement is fenced with high walls. This is the reason why Lo Manthang is often known as city of wall. According to the local legends entire city is divided into four smaller subunits. Each unit gets their named on the basis of their guardian deities.
Word Tiji is derived from Tenji. According to Tibetan dictionary Tenji mean “praying for world peace”. Dates for the festival are derived on the basis of Tibetan Calendar. Every year. According to the Tibetan Calendar it happens on the third month during 19th to 21st. According to the English calendar festival is held in mid of the fifth month. After earthquake had left few impacts on Upper Mustang. It is ok to trek entire region depending on teahouse. We will organize private and group joining tour for the 2020Tiji Festival.
In the event of Tiji festival, the main dancer, Tsowa completes a three month of retreat before the main event of the festival. During the main event, the members of Mustang royal family and all the villagers of the seven provinces of Upper Mustang/Lo Chhodun participates to witness this sacred dance, which is done along with many other rituals. According to the Mustang (Lobo) dialect, it is Tiji or Tenchi, which is the part of the meditation practice based on the Tantra text related to Vajrakumar/Vajrakila. However, the original name of this sacred dance is Tenpa Chirim, which means the benefits of Buddha’s teaching and all sentient beings. It is also believed that the performers of this dance receive empowerment of Vajrakila.
The first day of Tiji festival is being celebrated on 19th of May in 2020, and when the afternoon Lamas play Kangling and two twelve feet cooper dunchens. The double reeled horns, drums, and cymbals are also played along. The music is very unique and Lo-Monthang becomes loud and musical.
Afterward, a three story high, enormous Tibetan ancient art Thanka of Guru Rimpoche Padmasambhava gets unrolled down the south wall of the square.
In the late afternoon gelong and lamas wearing traditional maroon and gold costume with high red hats arrive at the square. They take their respective seats along the wall where the Thanka hangs. The main priest sits on the elevated seat in the center.
Now, the masked dancers start performing the mythical act via dancing. Dorje Jono and his powerful sword dance when he fights the demon are magical. Towards the end of the dance, Dorje Jono destroys the demon.
The Second Day
After Dorje Jono kills the demon, people believe that their misfortune ends bringing peace, harmony, prosperity in their kingdom. Also, they believe that water becomes plentiful at Lo-Manthang again as the demon dies.
On the second day of festival is 20th of May in 2020, and the festival will start by local women are wearing their traditional clothes and colorful jewelry coming to the square from the nearby villages. The square fills with cheerful monks, women, and children wearing their colorful dresses.
The dancers wear elaborated costumes. The ceremonial King of Mustang “wears a whole crown of tiny river pearls set off by dozens of large red coralline tones. He wears beautiful pieces of antique pieces of jewelry and matched ornaments of turquoise.
People wear beautiful costumes and masks. They look cheerful and happy. The twelve-foot horns, the gold cups of wheat, the butter cakes are attractive. The wind, sun, and the beautiful surrounding views make a beautiful combo.
This is the last day of the celebration of Tiji festival which is 21st of May in 2020. The festival ends with a grand celebration. On this day, they destruct the remainings of the evil. The ceremonial destruction is unique. They represent the destruction with some long black yak hair and red torma cakes minced to a dark red furry.
The demons red remnants are set out on an old tiger skin. People attack the skin with bow and arrows, slings, and old guns. The heavy gunfire from the old muzzle-loaders overturns the remains of the demons upon the ground. The Tiji festival ends with the demise of the demon.