Trekking the Himalaya during festivals time are packed with new and exciting experiences and include chances to immerse yourself in captivating cultures of the people living in some of the highest valleys in the world. Joining local villages on their way to religious sites to attend important annual festival allow travelers time to explore and have an insight into cultural and traditions of this country where Buddhism and Hinduism meet. Here is our suggestion for a festival trek.
UPPER MUSTANG TREK
TIJI FESTIVAL 2018
May is possible the best time to visit Upper Mustang as there is an ancient three-day colorful Tiji festival knows as "The chasing of the Demons" celebrated annually in the walled city of Lo Manthang. It tells the story of the deity Dorje Jono who battle against his demon father to save the Kingdom of Mustang from destruction. According to legend, Dorje was reborn in order to subdue the evil forces and demons that cause hell and suffering on earth, As Dorje’s father kept water from falling in this arid land, this dark sin was answered by Dorje defeating his father and banished him from the land forever.
This occasion offers a fantastic insight into the culture and traditions of the Upper Mustang people. Local villagers from all over this ancient kingdom make their way up to the capital city of Lo fills the trail with mule caravans and pilgrims. During the festival, the monks dress in brilliant costumes and masks dancing in the rhythm of drums, traditional horns and chanting supposedly to drive the evil spirits away.
Location: Lo Manthang
Date: 11, 12, 13 May
EVEREST BASE CAMP TREK
MANI RIMDU FESTIVAL 2018
Mani Rimdu is the most important festival of Everest Region for the Sherpa, the tradition is passed from its mother monastery, the Rongbuk in Tibet. It begins by drawing a beautiful and intricate mandala or sacred diagram on a wooden floor with colored sand. It takes four days to complete the mandala then it is covered and used as a focus for the next ten days meditation. Defensive blade symbolizing deities are placed around the Mandala, The bowl of Mani Rilwu pills (spiritual medicine) is placed above the center, then the monks chanting during the weeks of the 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.
Three main days of the public festival:
First Day - The Wong - is the opening day of the public ceremony. The sacred Mani Rilwu (sacred pills) and Tshereel (pills for long life), are given to everyone attending.
Second Day - Mask Dance: Monks elaborate masks and costumes on, perform a series of ritualistic dances of the triumph of Buddhism over Bon, the ancient animistic religion of Tibet. As the theme of the dance positive forces fights with those of disorder through the dances. During the dance, the monks are believed to become a divine being.
Third Day - The Fire Puja: is performed in the yard the day after the dances which 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.
Date: 25, 26, 27 Oct
Location: Tengboche Monastery
Get There? → Everest Base Camp Trek or → Everest Helicopter Tour
GOSAIKUNDA LAKE TREK
JANAI PURNIMA 2018
Janai Purnima is a Hindu festival celebrated all over the country, with family get-togethers and feasts of Kwati or sprout lentils, on this day Shamans of the valley and around Nepal gather to perform their ancient rites in places like the Kumbeshwar in Patan, Gosaikunda in Langtang and Charikot in Dolakha. Janai is the sacred thread and Purnima is full moon day so this day the Brahmins and Chettris perform their annual change of Janai and all who celebrates this festival put a sacred thread around their wrist.
The 108 lakes of Gosainkund which were form by Shiva’s legend stories of fighting the poison water, lies in altitudes of 4,000 meters attract thousands of Hindu pilgrims make their way to the sacred lake of Gosainkunda to bathe away their sin in Janai Purnima festival and local Tamangs come to dance.
Date: 28 Aug 2018
Location: Gosaikund Lake
Get there? → Gosaikund Lake Trek with various side trip ranging from 7 to 17 days
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