What Everyone Ought To Know All About Tiji Festival
mustang tiji festival

Tiji Festival is a three-day annual celebration in the ancient walled city of Lo Manthang, located in the Upper Mustang region of Nepal. The Festival dates back to the 15th century and is a vibrant and colorful event showcasing the Mustang region’s rich cultural heritage. It features masked dances, colorful costumes, and lively music, creating an unforgettable experience. In this article, we’ll delve into the history, traditions, and significance of the Tiji Festival and explore why it’s an event everyone should know about.

The Tiji Festival & its history

The Phurba tradition, also known as Sa Phur, revolves around the wrathful deity of Dorje Sonnu. It has been the dominant tradition in Lo Manthang since Lama Lowo Khenchen (1456-1532). Lowo Khenchen was a renowned Buddhist teacher in the Mustang region. He believed in a tradition that could remove all obstacles and was the son of the 2nd King of Lo, Amgon Sangpo (1419-82).

Ngorchen Kunga Sangpo, a Shakyapa master, may have helped make the tradition popular as a religious preceptor invited by Amedpal, the first ruler of Lo. Lowo Khenchen played a significant role in spreading Buddhism in the Mustang region.

Tiji festival

Significance of the Tiji Festival

The Tiji festival has become one of the leading festivals in the Upper Mustang region. At the time of the Festival, the country was prosperous and had abundant food. Buddhism was getting popular, resulting in the building of large monasteries and the rise of influential teachers.

Upper Mustang villages boast dzongs, monasteries, big houses, and private chapels, all evidence of a prosperous and faithful golden age.

The 15th King of Mustang, Ahang Jampa Dadul (enthronement approx. 1816, died 1837), witnessed unrest and economic downfall in Lo during his reign.

The queen was also incapable of bearing a son to appease the gods and remove obstacles to Buddhist religious traditions. A master of the Tibetan Shakyapa tradition, named Ngchen Ngawang Kunga Sonam, was invited to visit Lo.

The Tiji festival requires a master to take on the role of the principal dancer, known as tsowo, and wear a mask while performing the traditional dances. According to local folklore, there is a mound outside Lo-man thang. The great master chased away demons with an arrow and buried them, leaving an indent on the mound.

The Lo festival lost popularity until Ngachen Ngawang Kunga Sonam visited it. After his visit, the Festival regained its former glory and is now known as Sa Kawo or “White Land.”

Also Read: Discover the Mystery Hidden Behind the Tiji Festival

The Festival revealed

In the mid-1800s, Nepal underwent political changes that abandoned many traditional practices, including the Tiji festival in Mustang.

The main celebration in the city’s square is no longer taking place. However, Chhoede Gumpa, the central monastery of Lo-man thang, continues celebrating the priory festival. They are doing so without any financial support from the people.

tiji festival

There is an interesting story behind the recent revival of the Tiji festival. According to the story, an apparition appeared to Pemba, a layman from Lo-manthang. The apparition warned that neglecting the Tiji festival would lead to severe suffering and cruelty.

There’s a prediction that the Plague will spread in the area, causing death, misery, and scarcity. The 25th King recently held a meeting to discuss important matters with leaders from a monastery, representatives from the Lo Tso Dun region, and high-ranking officials. They discussed the Tiji festival, which has been celebrated since the 1970s in its original form in front of the Palace. The Tiji festival is a long-standing celebration in Lo Manthang, marked with grandeur and excitement.

To Sum Up

The Tiji Festival in Mustang celebrates the victory of good over evil in a three-day ritual that takes place annually. It is a source of pride and excitement for the locals and lasts for three days, involving various rituals and dances that symbolize the triumph of good over evil. The Tiji dance, a traditional dance passed down from generation to generation, is the most significant aspect of the celebration. The Choedhe Monastery in Lo Manthang hosts a Festival where monks dress in fancy costumes and perform traditional music. Their performance is captivating and showcases the essence of the Festival.

Moreover, several other dances and rituals are essential to the Festival, all of which hold significant cultural and religious importance. The Festival provides a glimpse into the rich cultural traditions and practices of the Mustang region of Nepal, celebrating the resilience and spirit of the Nepalese people.

Attending the Tiji festival offers a unique opportunity to witness the rich cultural traditions and practices of the Mustang region of Nepal. It is an experience that one can cherish for a lifetime.

About Author

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Kumar Lama
Kumar Lama is a founder of Himalayan Exploration Treks Pvt. Ltd. He is leading a team of travel professional offering tailor made travel services across Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan.