Mani Rimdu is the most sacred and auspicious festival of Sherpas of Nepal. The name “Mani Rimdu” means “part of the chant of Chenrezig” for ‘Mani’ and ‘Rimdu’ or ‘Rilbu’ means for small red pills that are blessed during the festival. The red pills are blessed repeatedly during the festival and then distributed among attendants of the festival.
History of Mani Rimdu festival
Mani Rimdu is a traditional festival passed on from the mother monastery of Tengboche monastery, the Rongbuk. The festival is a re-creation of legendary events; the establishment of Buddhism in Tibet by the great saint, Guru Rimpoche/Padmasambhava.
More about Mani Rimdu festival
Mani Rimdu is a 19-day festival during which various dances are performed, and through dances, symbolic demons are conquered, dispelled or converted to Dharma Protectors, as positive forces to clash with chaos. The dances performed during the festival have great meanings as they convey Buddhist teaching on many levels from simple guidance to the most ardent one. The message is conveyed for those who do not have an opportunity to study Buddhism and meditate extensively.
What happens at the festival?
Mani Rimdu festival begins with an elaborate depiction of mandala diagram which is made with colored sand. The sand isn’t just ordinary sand; itis extracted from a specified location in hills. It takes four days to draw the mandala as every detail and lining should be impeccable. The mandala is a very important part of the festival and is central during rest days of festival.
During the festival, 16 dance numbers are included with interludes of comical effect. The Sherpas gather at the Tengboche monastery for five days –“for the good of the world.” Although the festival takes place in remote Himalayan, it is rather interesting and meaning. There are different kinds of masked dances, acts, plays, prayers, and feasts.
When festival comes to an end, and all devotees make their leave, the monks perform a fire rite to disperse all harms and evil of the world. The sand mandala which is specially made for this festival is also officially removed with prayers for the benefit of all sentient beings. At the end of the festival, the resident Rinpoche of Tengboche monastery blesses the general public, then after monks perform mask dances. The mask dance is performed to guide some protective deities as a manifestation of a legendary saint, Guru Rinpoche (founder of Tibetan Buddhism). The dances also depict the defeat of demons and start of Buddhism to Tibet.
Now let’s know in detail about the main preparations of festival.
Construction of Mandala
Mandala of Mani Rimdu festival is a very important and crucial part. Colored sand in Mandala is used to make a complicated and symbolic design. While making it, defensive blade portraying deities are placed around Mandala. The bowl of Rimdu pills is placed above the center.
The whole Mandala details about the palace of GarwangThozeChempo (Lord of Dance). While meditation, monks imagine kindness flowing in the form of mantra, into Mandala and to Mani Rimdu pills. Then kindness releases out from Mandala, blessing all the attendants of the festival.
Wong ceremony takes place on the opening day of the festival. The ceremony is performed during the full moon day of tenth month as per Tibetan calendar.
Dances take place on the second day of festival. The dances in Mani Rimdu is performed only during the festival because the dance is considered very holy and sacred which is not for amusement purpose.
Ser-Kyem is a two piece bowl; a larger raised dish-shaped bowl and a smaller raised offering bowl. It is usually used to make tea offering. While making the offering, the small one is placed in an upright position in a larger bowl and when not in use the small one is placed upside down in the larger one.
Jinsak (Fire Puja)
Fire Puja is performed the day after dances. It is an offering to the god of fire and Mandala God as well to allay the harms of the world. It is visualized as dissolving into grain and butter is burned.
When is Mani Rimdu Festival in the year 2019?
Mani Rimdu festival is held during the tenth lunar month as per the Tibetan calendar, which usually falls in the month of October-November. The festival falls on the autumn season, a season when large number of tourists visit Khumbu region to trek to Everest Base Camp. The head lama of Tengboche monastery announces the dates of the festival. In 2019, the festival falls during November in 12th, 13th, and 14th respectively.
Manu Rimdu Festival Trek
Tengboche Monastery is the largest monastery of Khumbu region, and Mani Rimbu festival has highlighted the monastery in even more ways. Not just in the Everest region, but Tengboche monastery and Mani Rimdu are major attractions in Nepal as a whole. Looking at the data, there are about 15,000 tourists visiting the monastery in a year, and during tourist season it is 600 tourist in a week.
Mani Rimdu trekking continues to the foot of Mount Everest (8,848 meters), the Everest Basecamp. There is no place you would rather be than the Everest region as it is the tallest mountain of the whole world. Also, along with the tallest, there are other tallest mountains which reside in this region; Lhotse (8,516 meters), Makalu (8,481 meters) and Cho Oyu (8,201 meters).
Apart from this distinctive and unique festival, which celebrates tradition as well peace and serenity, the trek is what you would ‘extravaganza’ in the land of Himalayas where you will witness glorious mountain view, stunning landscape of mountains and hills, isolated village of Himalayas and their quaint culture and lifestyle and an opportunity to get a real experience into the life of Sherpas, who are famously known around the world as daring mountain climbers. In the trek you will witness the many amazing things like highest altitude hotel of the world, The Everest Hotel which offers 360-degree view of breathtaking mountains; Tenzing Hillary Airport at Lukla which is highest altitude airport and highest altitude settlement. You will also trek in the region of Sagarmatha National park, which offers a chance to encounter Himalayan flora and fauna. Overall, it is one luminary trek with makes us dive in Tibetan culture and bask us with the beauty of Himalayas.