Mani Rimdu is a sequence of holy rites and empowering activities. It consists of a nineteen-day celebration that culminates in a three-day public carnival. Sherpa have time to assemble and celebrate with the monastic community during this holiday.
Sherpa celebrate Mani Rimdu in the autumn at the Tengboche Monastery in the Everest region. For five days, lamas and Sherpas congregate at the monastery. They’ve gathered for the sake of the world’s well-being. Plays, masked dances, prayers, and feasts are all part of the festivities. Demons are extinguished, and the righteous are rewarded. It’s a vibrant celebration that’s perfect for combining with a trip in the Everest region.
Preparation of Mani Rimdu & Private sacred ceremonies:
The festival kicks off with a secret ceremony for the protection of the people. The monks prepare the location, reception, and numerous ritual art pieces. The first few days are devoted to the Mandala’s development. The colored sand Mandala is built step by step, grain by grain, with Mani Rimdu, the Lord of the Dance, at its heart.
The monks will arrange ornaments and make Tormas, symbolic sculptures made of flour dough and colored butter, over the next few days. The mani pills are then prepared and delivered to the audience at the public event. The monks rehearsed their ceremonial dances and performed private daily rituals and ceremonies in the days leading up to the public feast.
Mani Rimdu is Divided into six preparations:
Construction of the sand mandala:
The sand mandala is built in stages. Colored sand is used to create intricate and meaningful patterns. It takes several days to build a sand mandala. Around the Mandala are defensive blades that represent deities. Above the center is a dish of Mani Rilwu tablets (spiritual medicine).
The Mandala represents Garwang Thoze Chenpo’s palace (Lord of the Dance). Mani Rimdu’s principal idol, the Buddha of Kindness, was created. During the weeks of ceremonial leading up to the public festival, the monks repeat the mantra “OM AH HUNG RHI, OM MANI PADME HUMG” thousands of times. During meditation, they visualize kindness flowing into the Mandala and the Mani Rilwu tablets in the form of the mantra.
The Wong, (the Empowerment Ceremony):
The Wong is the first day of the public ceremonial, and it is held on the full moon day of the Tibetan lunar calendar’s 10th month. All visitors attending the ritual are handed Mani Rilwu (holy pills) and Tshereel (long life pills).
Chhaam,( the Mask Dances):
The mask dances take place in the monastery’s courtyard on the second day of the Public Festival. Symbolic demons are either defeated, chased away, or converted into Dharma Protectors. Through the dances, positive forces battle chaotic forces.
The most popular use of Ser-Kyem is to create tea offerings to Dharma guardians like Mahakala. A bigger raised dish-shaped bowl and a smaller raised offering bowl make up the set. When the offering is made, the smaller bowl is positioned upright in the bigger bowl. The smaller offering bowl is placed upside down in the bigger bowl when not in use. When not in use, the food offerings can be placed in the bigger bowl.
Many ceremonies include this spiritual nectar offering. Ngag-pa, Tantric magicians, are represented by the six dancers.
The Fire Puja(Jinsak):
The Mani Rimdu Festival has come to an end. The Fire Puja takes place in the monastery’s courtyard. The Fire Puja is a sacrifice made to Agni (the God of Fire) and the Mandala Gods in order to remove all evil from the planet. The temple’s Sand Mandala is destroyed, and the sand is delivered to the snake Gods as a gift (Nagas).
The Four Protecting Ghings, who defend Buddhism against demons, are depicted in the next dance. The dancers’ faces are hidden behind gleaming paper masks, each of which is a different color and wears a perpetual smile. The beat of cymbals is synchronized with the hops of the dancers. As a form of entertainment, the dancers charge at children in the audience and scare them.
The Dakini dance is gracefully performed. Five young priests perform slow motion dance routines in perfect sync with the delicate tinkle and slow beat of bells and drums. The dancers don’t wear masks and portray female spiritual icons, such as Padmasambhava’s partners. They are said to be from Shangdok Palri, his pristine realm where they live within his mandala. They announce Guru Rinpochhe’s impending arrival at the Mani Rimdu. The two male Ghings hold cymbals, while the two female Ghings carry drums. The males symbolize skillful means, while the females represent wisdom; these two components of the route are represented by these two characters. Barley flour is used to make the torma, which is then adorned with colored butter. It begins with symbolizing the deity’s body and progresses to represent enlightenment itself at the end of the rite. It has its own shrine in front of the mandala, right in the center of the temple.
Before going on the Mani Rimdu Festival Trek, there are a few things you should know:
Mani Rimdu Festival Trek itinerary:
The Mani Rimdu Festival Trek starts with a quick flight to Lukla. From here, follow the Dudh Koshi River all the way to Phakding. You spend the night here before trekking via Sagarmatha National Park to Namche Bazar. This section of the journey will be challenging. The trail continues to Tengboche, where you will celebrate the Mani Rimdu Festival for a few days. After the festival, you retrace your steps and return to Lukla.
Mani Rimdu Festival Trek difficulty:
The Mani Rimdu Festival Trek is an easy trek. Many ascents and descents through dense woodland and mountain communities are part of the challenge. There is also some steep and difficult climbing. The Mani Rimdu Festival Trek does not require any prior trekking experience; however, you must be in good physical condition and health to participate.
Best time to go on Mani Rimdu Festival Trek:
From October through November is the finest time to visit Mani Rimdu Festival Trek. The head lama of the Tengboche monastery chooses the festival date based on the Tibetan Lunar calendar. This is also the busiest trekking season in the Khumbu region. During this time of year, you’ll see a lot of other trekkers from all over the world.
Food & Accommodation during Mani Rimdu Festival Trek:
The Mani Rimdu Festival Trek includes an overnight stay at a lodge. The lodge has simple accommodations with twin-sharing rooms. The lodge has a hot shower facility, but you may have to pay a few extra dollars to use it. During the Mani Rimdu Festival Trekking, three meals are served per day. The meals are prepared according to the lodge’s menu. The culinary selection at the Lodge is extensive. The cuisine includes Nepali, Indian, Tibetan, and Continental dishes. Dal bhat is the cheapest, delicious, and filling of all the dishes. In the lodge, you may also get boiled water to drink. You can carry water purifying tablets with you for further security.