In 2005, we traveled to Nepal and trekked into the Khumbu Valley towards Everest Base Camp. We timed our journey to coincide with the Sherpa’s Mani Rimdu festival at Tengboche Monastery.
Mani Rimdu takes place each fall in the Solukhumbu District of Nepal and lasts for nine days. During these days the region’s monks create elaborate sand mandalas and take part in ceremonies and dances that celebrate the establishment of Buddhism in Tibet by Guru Rinpoche. The Solukhumbu community attends Mani Rimdu for three of the nine days, watching the dances and receiving sacred Mani Rilbu and Tshereel “pills” and blessings from the monks of the monasteries.
On the day we attended Mani Rimdu, horns droned loudly from the windows of Tengboche as a monk created large sand drawings on the ground outside the main gate. Sherpas arrived on foot from around the region and gathered in anticipation of the day’s festivities. In the early afternoon the monks exited the monastery in a spectacular procession of kasayas, yellow Vinaya hats, horns, drums and flags. Abbott Tengboche Rinpoche walked past me with a reverent aura around him, led by a masked dancer called Mi-Tsering, or Long Life Man, who is pictured here against the awe-inspiring backdrop of the Himalayas.
Trulshig Rinpoche, former abbot of nearby Chiwong Monastery and teacher of the 14th Dalai Lama, once said, “Seeing Mani Rimdu is like receiving a blessing.” Blessed we were to see such a unique day in world religion and culture.
An upcoming post will feature part six of our Khumbu Valley trek, including more photos of Mani Rimdu in the presence of Chomolungma.