In the Everest region the people celebrate few festivals which has a great importance in their culture. These festivals are celebrated in the monasteries and the local communities. During these festival the family come together and enjoy its rituals. If you want to witness these festivals then you can come for trekking during the celebration. Some of the festivals in the Everest region are:
- Mani Rimdu
The name of Dumje is derived from Dup Chhoe (Meditational worship); this festival is observed by the Sherpa’s of Solu and khhumbu .it is considered as one of the most important festival which is observed in April/May in Junbesi and Namche Bazar . It is observed for four days altogether, and there are 145 households of Lama Sherwa. Festivals will be centralized at the monastery of Junbesi according to their tradition; every year 8 to 14 house holders will take economic responsibility to manage/organize Dumje festival that are known as Chiwa /Lawa in their local Sherpa language.
The first day of the festival is called Sang and Sarngim; on this day of the afternoon, the monks blow the trumpet to let the people know about the festival. Before attending the festival, all Sherpa people will get well dressed up with their traditional dress, men wear a hat, bakkhu where female wears jewelry, angii, pangden etc. During their arrival, Lamas will be busy reciting (reading) the hymns. The events start with the blow of the thigh (Human leg bone) horn (Kangling in Sherpa language) and the dance inside the gumba.
The next day of the festival includes six different varieties of dances which are performed by the Lamas, and they are:
- Sang and Sarngim
- Tyak tyak
- Syang dongma
Out of six different dances, Peysangba dance is considered as one of the essential dances, which is performed by two dancers who will have a better social status. This dance is related to/ indicates the behavior/posture of Lang Dharma, who was killed by Dorjee from Lha Lung Pal of Tibet.
The third step of the festival is a concern with the humorous dance called Tyak Tyak where the dancer cuts jokes and creates an idyllic (Happy) environment. In the evening, the ritual called Lhokpar is performed where the Lamas decorate the altar (kind of table), which is installed at the central courtyard of the monastery where they display many ritual items where people can see the effigy (Statue) called Lu or Gyepsil characterized by three animals heads which are Pig-horse and oxen which represent ill-omen or image of the evil spirit, it is also called Torma Sherpa language. In the end, people will form a group headed by the monks where the Lamas carry the Torma outside the village they throw it along with the rituals or burned down.
The 4th stage of Dumje festival is known as Syangdongma
4th day of the festival, during this festival all different householder will visit the monastery in the morning; the chief of the community will show the statue of Guru Rinpoche to the visitor; this statue is known as Kuchup Lernga. It is only shown once in the year during Dumje festival, showing the statue refers to local people prostrate to his statue (Guru Rinpoche) in the evening of that day fest is organized where many people attend the ceremony during this occasion, the role of Chiwa/Lawa seems to be very important where they offer drinks to the visitor providing cups called Fura. Fura symbolizes that they belong to the same clan /groups; at that time, people perform a new traditional Sherpa dance where Chiwa Lawa would feed drinks to all participants; at this movement, chiwa /lawa must be careful of feeding drinks with the single Fura. There is a tradition of using the same cup by all participants. While drinking chhyang (fermented rice beer), if they use the same cup means they all belong to the same group; if a different cup is provided to the attendants, it is known that the cup holder either belongs to the lower status of the Sherpa group or the non-Sherpa). Thus, the drinking cup identifies the outsiders and insiders within the Sherpa community. This also reveals how a cup plays a vital role in keeping the Sherpas within their social structure to maintain their own identity. Thus the festival ends with joy, peace, and happiness. It would be a lifetime opportunity to be a part of this festival.
Mani Rimdu Festival
Mani Rimdu has been recognized as another important festival that is observed by the Sherpas of Khumbu and Solu. If this is observed in Solu, the monks and Lamas participate in celebrating this festival from Thupten Chhoeling Monastery, but Mani Rimdu is observed at Chiwang monastery located at an altitude of 10,000 ft., which takes 3 to 4 hours of a hike from Phalphu airport to Chiwang. This festival is observed in November both at Tyangboche Monastery located at an altitude of 18,000 ft height which takes 2 to 3 days from Lukla, if not 3 hours walk from Namche Bazar. This festival which is observed in November, the locals not only enjoy it but also they enjoy seasonal change because the sky seems so blue and all the mountains seem to be welcoming all the newcomers. The same type of climatic conditions could be seen in Solu as well.
The term Mani Rimdu is derived from two words MANI and RILDUP, which means the practice of the mani pills which is offered to the participants at the end of the festival by the reincarnated lama of Tyangboche Monastery of Khumbu and Chiwang monastery of Solu. This indicates that Mani Rimdu is preceded by reincarnated lama of Tyangboche in Khumbu and Chiwang monastery and reincarnated lama of Thupten Chhoeling monastery. Thupten Chhoeling monastery is located a little farther from Junbesi on one side and the crowd of monks and the lamas at the monastery, and on the other side many local people attends the ceremony with food and drinks. They are well dressed in their traditional uniform. Mani Rimdu festival is directly related with bonpo where the bravery of Guru Rinpoche is highlighted so far as the rituals and rites of this festival are concerned with many monks including lama performing exorcism rites (tantric rituals). Some groups of monks invoke to gods, some play with drums, crashing the symbols and blowing the thigh horns and some of them recites the hymns. Some other groups prepare food for the monks, and some manage ritual ingredients. Besides those arrangements activities, the lamas perform different types of puja, and the monks perform thirteen different dances, which is keenly observed by the participants. The thirteen different dances symbolize the events, ideas, spirituality, nature, bravery, and reverence.
At the end of the festival, the blessing ceremony begins in which the reincarnated Lama will wish the longevity of all attendance. Then comes the mass distribution of pills, the secret thread with consecrated water, towards the audiences for the longevity of life; this symbolizes that the festival is over.
Loshar is one of the most important festivals celebrated in the Himalayan region by Gurungs, Lamas, and Sherpas. There are different types of Lhosar, but the people of the Everest region mainly celebrates the Gyalpo and Sonam Loshar. The term Losar can be divided into two words: Lo meaning Year and Sar meaning New. Thus it is a New Year festival. The Sherpa’s of Solukhumbu, in comparison with other inhabitants of the Himalayan region, observe this festival on a big scale. Sonam Losar is observed one month earlier than Gyalpo Loshar. This is observed in Tibetan month which is in the end of January or beginning of February. As far as Gyalpo Lhosar is concerned, it is observed in February. The Sherpas call it Losharsap, meaning eating together. Loshar is a pure social festival because people will be dedicated to managing food and drinks, cleaning the houses, blessing individuals, inviting guests/relatives, and enjoying together and at the same time they have a strong belief for their religion. Lhosar plays an important role for shaping the life and culture of the people.
While observing this festival, the people simply prepare a kind of food which is known as Ghuthuk, made from 9 different food items. The significance of this food is the people who consume this food will help to get rid of the negative effects of the nine planets. The people will also decorate their houses with rice flour and write the New Year festival in the Tibetan language. They also put tika on their own shoulders for longevity of their life. People also offer butter, rice flour, bread at the altar. In the early morning of the first day, most of the female members of each household goes to the place where they can fill up the water. The place is known as Luwang, the place where they believe the serpent resides. If someone could fill up the water earlier in the morning, it is believed that she will have good luck for the coming year. Therefore the women will have competition fetching the water. In the evening, the people perform a ritual where they consume fermented rice beer, also called a libation drink. They also organize communal worship, which is known as Lhapso or hyulsar, meaning worshiping to local deities.
On the first day of Lhosar, no villagers, neighbors, or relatives will show interest to visit other houses because of scaring one’s luck or might shift to other houses. And the second day, they invade their family members for food and drinks. And from the third day, everyone visit many other relatives where they share food and drinks and dine together.
Lhosar brings the Sherpa tribe together and makes their bonding more strong.