Nepal Highpoint Trekking & Expedition

GOVT REGD NO: 114523/070/071


How is the Tiji festival celebrated?

During the festival, the main dancer, Tsowa completes a three month of retreat before the main event of the festival. During the main event, the members of Mustang royal family and all the villagers of the seven provinces of Upper Mustang/Lo Chhodun participates to witness this sacred dance, which is done along with many other rituals. According to the Mustang (Lobo) dialect, it is Tiji or Tenchi, which is the part of the meditation practice based on the Tantra text related to Vajrakumar/Vajrakila. However, the original name of this sacred dance is Tenpa Chirim, which means the benefits of Buddha’s teaching and all sentient beings. It is also believed that the performers of this dance receive empowerment of Vajrakila.

Play this video to see view of Tiji festival celebrating.

When is Tiji Festival in 2020?

Teeji festival is being celebrated on 19 May – 21 May in 2020. Since this festival is very popular in Mustang, the trekkers love being there during this period in Mustang.

What is history behind Tiji Festival in Mustang?

The history begins from the ANCESTORS Vajrakila (Dorje Phurba) or Vajrakumar (Dorje Shonnu) is a name of tutelary deity Yidam in Vajrayana Buddhism (we can read this in Bddism history). This process was much familiar in in India and Nepal for long time. Buddhist master Padmasambhava, Vimalamitra and Shilamnju (Of Nepal) introduced this practice into Tibet in the 8th century in AD (1300 years ago). There were many lineages of Vajrakila practice in Tibet. Among them Khon tradition Kila (Phurba) is one of the major practice in Sakyapa school of Tibetan Buddhism. Padamasambhava instructed major steps in sacred dance of Vajrakila at Samye Monastery in Tibet. Chhode Monastery at Lo-Manthang in Mustang area of Nepal is very famous for the performance of Vajrakila practice and ritual. History of Tiji Festival in Mustang starts in the 17th century Mustangi King Samdup Rabten invited Sakya Trizin Ngawang Kunga Sinam in Lomanthang. He resided as Lo-Manthang Chhode Monastery and performed special Vajrakila ritual for the wellbeing of all sentient being and dispelling negative elements in Mustang. He started special religious dance related with the meditation of Vajrakila. Since then monks of Chhode monastery are performing this religious dance with rituals every year month of May in Mustang Lo-Manthang.

The harassment of Ma Tam Ru Ta (in a dance called “Tsa Chham” on the first day), the birth of Dorjee Sonnu as the demon’s son (on the second day called “Nga Chham”) and the attempt to return the demon to Lord Buddha’s realm (on final day the demon to Lord Buddha’s realm) are enacted during the performances.

In Lo- Manthang this sacred dance is performed during the time of 3 days by monks of Chhode monastery in the courtyard of Mustang Royal palace. Originally it was performed in the last part of the twelfth month of Tibetan calendar but nowadays it is performed n last part of third Tibetan month (May). The main dancer (Tsowo) has to complete 3-month retreat practice before the main event. Mustang Royal family and all the villagers of seven provinces of Upper mustang (Lo Chhodun) participate in this sacred dance with ritual. The original name of this ritual dance is Tenpa Chirim which means benefit of Buddha’s teaching and all sentient beings. In Mustangi (Lobo) dialect it is pronounced as TIji (or Tenchi). It is a part of Sadhana (meditation practice) based on root and explanatory Tantra text related with Vajra Kumar (Vajra Kila). Performers of dance should have received empowerments of Vajrakila. Most of the important elements of wrathful Sadhana are preformed in this sacred dance. There are two types of activities during the development/creation phase of meditation. There are peaceful steps of dance in the first activity (Toele) while subjugation of negative elements is depicted in the second activity (Mele).

There are 3 major topics in this sacred dance called preliminary, main practice and conclusion. In the perilimianary part of this sacred dance, there are 15 steps. Generation of selestial palace and generation of deities are the two steps in main practice. In conclusion, there are steps to clear away eternal and nihilistic views as well as providing auspiciousness. Different poses and gestures signify different processes of Meditation in symbolic away. These all steps in dance have deeper meaning. All the obstacles in life are cleared by seeing these steps with faith and respect. Also, auspicious conditions will happen. This sacred dance ceremony is a skillful means used by past Buddhist masters for the benefit of all sentient beings.