Explore The Mustang Region and Experience The Amazing Tiji Festival
Nepal is a land of mystery, history, and wonder that draws people from all over the world and all walks of life to its high mountains and varied culture. From the towering Himalaya to the rain forest of Chitiwan, the diversity of Nepal's landscape is only matched by the diversity of it's people. Once you fall under the spell of this magical place you will return again and again to find that feeling.
On this excursion you will take part in the Tiji Festival which dates back to the 17th Century. Derived from the term "Tenpa Chirim" which means "prayer for world peace," this festival is a dazzling display of dancing, music, and traditional storytelling that few travelers get to experience.The trek also offers panoramic scenery of the surrounding mountains, namely; Annapurna I (8,091m), Dhaulagiri (8,167m), Nilgiri Central (6,940m) and Tukuche (6,920m). You may find ancient artifacts belonging to the Bon religion which predates Buddhism.
Tiji Festival Background
Located to the north of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri peaks, Upper Mustang boasts close access to the traditional Tibetan lifestyle, age-old traditions, and trans-Himalayan climate. This journey itself comprises of an off-beat trek experience along with breathtaking views of the mountains located at the mid-west of Nepal. Endemic to the people in Upper Mustang, the 3 day long Tiji Festival is celebrated every year during Mid-May at Lo Manthang in Mustang.
The term "Tiji" is a misnomer for "Tenchi" which is the short form of Tenpa Chirim meaning “prayer for world peace.” Although its history dates back to ancient times, the festival began in its current form in the 17th Century. During the festival the town is filled with people disguised as demons in their colorful robes and eccentric masks dancing to the beat of Dungchen, the ceremonial Tibetan long horn. The ceremony continues for the next 2 days and concludes with the story of a deity and his demonic father. You spend 3 days at Lo Manthang observing the Tiji Festival before descending to Jomsom. This allows for a truly immersive and connected experience. Taking a slow pace, building in time for reflection and interaction with the local people and with yourself is key in finding transformational experiences. During this time you may also find ancient artifacts belonging to the Bon religion which predates Buddhism.
Few outsiders get to experience this festival due to its remote location and it being off the main tourism track. Being able to observe and take part in portions of this ceremony will truly open you up to what is to be found in this experience and within yourself.
As with all of our trips, in Nepal we partner with a locally owned and operated nonprofit organization that is working to improve the lives of communities in the places we travel. We partner with Karma Sherpa and The Karma Project. The Karma Project is a non-profit organization that creates locally owned sustainable tourism companies to provide employment, education, medical services, and job training to people living in remote Himalayan villages. Many mountain communities cannot afford to send their children to school, or to transport loved-ones to distant medical clinics. Money from tourism can make these services affordable.
The Karma Project focuses on these areas of work:
1. Provide medical scholarships for villagers to work as community doctors.
2. Reduce deforestation, landslides, and respiratory problems
3. Provide training, equipment, and support to locally owned businesses
4. Promote supporting companies and organizations.
In the past few years the Karma Project has completed many amazing projects including:
- Providing infrastructure and funding to bring electricity to the remote village of Sibuje in partnership with the community
Create a locally owned tourism company
Partner with international tour companies to provide employment to Sibuje villagers.
Start a scholarship fund for students in Sibuje
Trekking As A Walking Meditation
When we walk anywhere it can be a meditative practice. This is especially true when we trek through the sacred Himalaya in Nepal. The Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh talks about the meditation of walking. He says, "The practice of mindful walking is a profound and pleasurable way to deepen our connection with our body and the earth. We breathe, take a mindful step, and come back to our true home." Nowhere is this more true than as we explore the land and culture of Nepal by foot.
As you trek keep these principles in mind:
- Unite the body and mind: Walking meditation unites our body and our mind. We combine our breathing with our steps. When we breathe in, we may take two or three steps. When we breathe out, we may take three, four, or five steps. We pay attention to what is comfortable for our body. Our breathing has the function of helping our body and mind to calm down. As we walk, we can say, Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I bring peace into my body. Calming the breath calms the body and reduces any pain and tension.
- We are not seperate from the Earth: When we take mindful steps on the earth, our body and mind unite, and we unite with the earth. The earth gave birth to us and the earth will receive us again. Nothing is lost. Nothing is born. Nothing dies. We don’t need to wait until after our body has disintegrated to go back to Mother Earth. We are going back to Mother Earth at every moment. Whenever we breathe, whenever we step, we are returning to the earth. Even when we scratch ourselves, skin cells will fall and return to the earth.
- Let the Buddha walk: Those of us who can walk on the earth, who can walk in freedom, should do it. If we rush from one place to another, without practicing walking meditation, it is such a waste. What is walking for? Walking is for nothing. It’s just for walking. That is our ultimate aim—walking in the spring breeze. We have to walk so that we have happiness, so that we can be a free person. We have to let go of everything, and not seek or long or search for anything. There is enough for us to be happy.
Here is a poem I really love to focus your mind and body on the walking meditation.
I take refuge in Mother Earth.
Every breath, every step
manifests our love.
Every breath brings happiness.
Every step brings happiness.
I see the whole cosmos in the earth.
Text and principles adapted from Thich Nhat Hanh.
In the capital city of Nepal you will stay at the very nice Hotel Shambala. This modern hotel is the perfect place to find some refuge from the hustle and bustle of the city and to recover once you return from your trip. The rooms are comfortable with all the modern amenities and it also boasts a rooftop pool!
Trekking Guest House
On your walking trek to the Tiji Festival and while you enjoy the festivities, you will stay in simple and traditional guest houses. These vary widely in size, style, and comfort be rest assured your guides will find the best possible place to call home. You can get traditional meals cooked in house, and even sometimes enjoy some favorites from home like pizza and pasta!