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What makes Mani Rimdu Festival unique?

Every year, for 19 days, Sherpas from all over the region come together to celebrate the Mani Rimdu festival. For this purpose, traditional drums and chanting echo through the Himalayas. And the monastic communities participate in the masked dances and prayers in Tengboche Monastery. That too, for three whole days on the lap of Mt. Everest. 

Mani Rimdu Celebration at Tengboche Monastery
Mani Rimdu Celebration at Tengboche Monastery

In fact, the Mani Rimdu Festival process is long and engaging, where families come together to celebrate the foundation day of Tibetan Buddhism by Guru Rinpoche Padma Sambhava. Accordingly, preparations take place behind closed doors. For instance, sand for the main mandala is colored and dried, rice and traditional flour for the prayers are gathered. Masks for the dances are dusted off. And finally, the 3-day public celebration takes place in Tengboche Monastery, which you can behold during your Everest base camp trek.

What happens during the Mani Rimdu Festival?

Indeed, Mani Rimdu is a festival celebrated by Buddhists, where they pray for the welfare of the world. In an artistic display of faith, Lamas and Sherpa gather at the monastery for five consecutive days. There are plays, masked dances, prayers, and feasts during the celebration.

To this end, the central theme of the festival is the conflict between good and evil. Throughout the theatrical celebrations, demons are quelled and the pious are rewarded. For this purpose, here are some of the rituals: 

S.N.Ritual 
1 The Sand mandala
Creation of the Buddha of Kindness, the main idol of Mani Rimdu. Made from colored sand.
2 The Empowerment (Wong)
The sacred Mani Rilwu (sacred pills) and Tshereel (pills for long life), are given to everyone attending.
3The Dances (Chham)
Symbolic demons are conquered, chased away, or transformed to Protectors of Dharma Divine dance, not for entertainment. 
4Ser-Kyem
A Buddhist consultant makes tea offerings and takes ‘refuge’ in the Lama (spiritual guide), Yidam (personal deity) and Khandro (wisdom Dakini).
5The Fire Puja (Jinsak)
Offering to Agni (the god of fire), and to the Gods of the mandala to allay all harm in the world. Destruction of the sand mandala, sand is given as an offering to the serpent gods
6Chhingpa
Dance of the four Protecting Ghings, defending the Buddhist faith against attack by demons
Symbolic demons are conquered, chased away, or transformed to Protectors of Dharma Divine dance, not for entertainment - Chham Dance
Chham Dance – Symbolic demons are conquered, chased away, or transformed to Protectors of Dharma Divine dance, not for entertainment. 

Mani Rimdu Festival dates for 2022

As locals follow the Tibetan Lunar calendar, the dates of the Mani Rimdu festival are fixed according to the annual lunar cycle. The head Lama in Tengboche Monastery announces the dates accordingly. In Tengboche, Mani Rimdu is performed during the 9th Tibetan month, which usually falls in November on the Gregorian calendar. Here are the tentative dates:

Day2022
1st day of public celebration8th November
2nd day of public celebration (The Empowerment)9th November
3rd day of public celebration (Mask Dance)10th November

To clarify, the celebration dates differ according to the location of the monasteries. For example, Thame monastery observes Mani Rimdu six months after the celebrations at Tengboche. 

Perfect time for an adventure!
The Mani Rimdu festival in Tengboche falls in November, during the peak festive season in Nepal. Subsequently, the skies are clear, and it’s the perfect time to trek to Tengboche monastery. Thus, if you want an added thrill, it’s the best time to trek to the Everest base camp as well.  

How to get from Kathmandu to Tengboche Monastery

In reality, Mani Rimdu festival is celebrated in three different monasteries: Tengboche, Thame, and Chiwong monastery. However, the largest and most vibrant prayers are held on the premise of the Tengboche monastery, up in the Khumbu region of Nepal. While the festival is a rich cultural experience, the journey to the monastery itself is an adventure. Although there are several routes there, some are long while some are short and convenient, but overall, all picturesque and delightful. 

Tengboche Monastery in Everest Region
Tengboche Monastery in Everest Region

1. Flight + Hike: combine adventure with convenience 

Surprisingly, only short direct flights are accessible to Lukla. Nevertheless, you will be able to experience the beauty of the mountainous Nepali countryside with a short hike. 

  • Fly from Kathmandu to Lukla (35-40 min)
  • Trek from Lukla to Phakding (3-4 hours)
  • Trek from Phakding to Namche Bazaar (5-6 hours)
  • Namche Bazaar to Khumjung (4-5 hours)
  • Khumjung to Tengboche (4-5 hours)

Less Hike More Fun – Everest View Trek
Undoubtedly reaching Everest Base Camp is a strenuous walk. So, for those who want to witness the glorious view of Mt. Everest, we have designed the Everest View Trek itinerary. And this itinerary will take you along some of the best places to view Mount Everest.  

2. Drive + Hike: Take the winding road to Tengboche

Driving through the quaint Nepali countryside on hilly highways and gravel roads lend a different personality to your trip. Follow that up with an immersive hike through local villages and you get to experience the trip of a lifetime!

  • Drive from Kathmandu to Salleri
  • Drive from Salleri to Tham Danda (6-7 hours)
  • Tham Danda to Surkey (Lukla) (about 5 hours)
  • Trek from Lukla to Phakding (3-4 hours)
  • Trek from Phakding to Namche Bazaar (5-6 hours)
  • Namche Bazaar to Khumjung (4-5 hours)
  • Khumjung to Tengboche (4-5 hours)

Things to know while traveling for Mani Rimdu Festival

Tourists attending the Mani Rimdu Festival
Tourists attending the Mani Rimdu Festival

1. Prepare for turbulence

Lukla airport (also known as the Tenzing Hillary airport) is located at an elevation of 9,337 ft / 2,846 m and is right in the lap of the Himalayas. Flights can get a little more to the adventurous side, as landing in Lukla is no small feat! Prepare for delays and cancelations as well, because pilots will need the best of conditions to safely arrive at your destination. 

2. Incredible bird-watching opportunity 

As it is illegal to hunt or hurt the protected wildlife in the Everest region, you will be surrounded by magnificent flora and fauna. You’re likely to have an easier time spotting birds in the arid zones, as larger animals tend to stay away from settlements. You’ll be able to witness the dazzling colors of the Danfe (also Nepal’s national bird) and blood pheasant. Or you can walk along your trail with a tame Tibetan Snowcock hopping beside you. 

3. The magnificent monastery 

On one hand, Tengboche Monastery is one of the holiest places in the Everest region. On the other hand, the monastery is known to be the largest one in the Khumbu region. Also, it is one of the most prominent and the largest monasteries in the entire district. And surprisingly, it is perched on a hill, at the confluence of Dudh Koshi and Imja Khola rivers, with Mt. Ama Dablam forming a stunning backdrop to the location. Since it is combined with the intricate Buddhist art and stunning traditional architecture, the monastery is a wonder!

4. Learn some words of greetings

Knowing a few Nepali words of greetings can help you build better connection with the locals. 

  • Namaste – Universal greeting viz, Hi, Hello while meeting for the first time, and generally during first meeting of the day.
  • Dhanyabad – Thank You
  • Swagatam – You are welcome
  • Mithho chha – It’s delicious
  • Ho – Yes
  • Hoina – No
  • Thik chha – It’s Good
  • Ma thik chhu – I am fine
  • Tapai lai kasto chha – How are you?
  • Khana khanu vayo? – Have you had your food?
  • Khusi lagyo – I feel glad OR I am happy
  • Ramro chha – It is good

5. Seek Permission Before Clicking Photos

Although Everest Region is welcoming foreign travelers, not every place is accessible without prior permission. So, be careful not to trespass and seek permission before you take pictures or make videos of someone or something. You need to be extra cautious inside the monastery and other religious sites. So, look out for signs, and when in doubt, always ask someone nearby. 

One of Nepal’s greatest assets is its people. Hence, the amalgamation of different lifestyle and culture makes it an ethnic paradise. One of the best ways to get to know the country is by witnessing its festivals, and colorful reflections of the locals’ lives. So, do you want to know more about the beautiful festivals of Nepal? Want to witness them in person? Contact us! You can simply message us on Facebook or Whatsapp us at +1-410-307-0007. Happy travels!

Himalayan Glacier Adventure and Travel Company
About the author

A leading adventure & tour operator in the Himalayas since 1992, Himalayan Glacier Adventure & Travel Company® is the #1 guiding adventure travel company on Mount Everest Base Camp and beyond with 98% success rate. Continuing its decades-old legacy, Himalayan Glacier is a little different from other adventure & tour operators. Each of our holidays is truly a tailor-made package which we design for all ages, groups, families & solo travelers. We have veteran mountaineering leaders who have been into this industry for several decades. So, we offer you complete choice and freedom to explore the real pleasure of traveling.
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