Tiji Festival is the most auspicious ceremony in the Upper Mustang region. According to ancient mythology, this festival celebrates God’s triumph over the demonic spirits.
This three-day annual festival is celebrated according to the Tibetan lunar calendar. Although the festival dates change every year, it is often held during the long stretch of May.
You can witness the local monks wear unique costumes and masks to perform several dances and rituals during the festival. With these sacred performances, the local monks are believed to drive the evil spirits away from the village. Chode Monastery organizes all the dances and rituals of the Tiji Festival.
Highlights of Mustang Tiji Festival Trek
- Explore the centuries-old heritage sites of Kathmandu Valley
- Take a long, adventurous drive to Pokhara and travel around the lakeside city
- Begin the adventure with a breathtaking flight to Jomsom, the capital of the Mustang district
- Relish the marvelous mountain views, including Dhaulagiri, Annapurna, and Nilgiri
- Set foot in Lo Manthang — the walled capital of the Kingdom of Lo
- Visit the mesmerizing sky caves and ancient monasteries of Mustang
- Witness the most auspicious Tiji Festival
History and Rituals of Tiji Festival
The Tiji Festival glorifies the triumph of good over evil. The history of this iconic festival dates a long way back. According to ancient mythology, the celebration of Tiji started after Dorje Jono, a deity in Vajrayana Buddhism, defeated a demon to spare the Kingdom of Mustang from destruction.
The people of Upper Mustang did not celebrate the Tiji Festival until the 17th century. It was celebrated after Sakya Trizin Ngawang Kunga performed a sacred Vajrakila ritual in Chode Gompa to banish the negative energies from Mustang.
Since then, the local monks of Chode Gompa have been performing religious dances and rituals every year. In the beginning, this festival was performed in the twelfth month of the Tibetan calendar. Nowadays, it is celebrated in the third month of the Tibetan calendar, i.e., May in the regular calendar.
The festival extends for three days in the courtyard of the Royal Palace at Lo Manthang. In 2022, the Tiji Festival will be celebrated from May 27th to 29th.
On the very 1st day of the Tiji Festival, the monks of Chode Gompa perform a religious dance called ‘Tsa Chaam.’ This performance re-enacts the harassment of the demon named Ma Tam Ru Ta. According to Buddhist tradition, the monks who perform this sacred dance receive Vajrakila’s empowerment.
On the 2nd day of the Tiji Festival, the monks perform another dance called ‘NgaCham.’ It resembles the birth (or rebirth) of Dorje Soman, whose demon father watches the performance from under a blanket in the middle of the royal square. The performance includes terrifying manifestations that signify the souls he meets on his way to the rebirth through the Bardo (the transition after death and before one’s next birth).
On the 3rd day of the Tiji Festival, they perform the ‘Rha Chham’ dance. At this particular ceremony, Dorje Sonam claims victory over the evil demon and dispels him from Mustang once and for all. This triumph resembles the advent of peace and prosperity to the remote land of Mustang.
What Are the Dates for the Upper Mustang Tiji Festival 2022?
The Tiji Festival is celebrated every year according to the Tibetan lunar calendar. Initially, this auspicious festival was celebrated at the end of the 12th month of the Tibetan calendar. Nowadays, the locals of the Upper Mustang celebrate this festival in the third month of the Tibetan lunar calendar (which happens to be May).
The Tiji Festival 2022 will be celebrated over three days, from May 27th to May 29th.
Is the Tiji Festival Celebrated in Any Other Regions of Nepal?
No. The Tiji Festival exclusively takes place in the walled capital of the Kingdom of Lo. It is not celebrated anywhere else in the country.
When Should I Arrive in Kathmandu If I Choose to Join This Trip?
Since the Tiji Festival in 2022 begins on 27th May, we will officially start our trip on May 20th. On this day, we will go for a full-day heritage tour and make the necessary trek preparations.
Hence, if you want to join this trek, you should arrive in Kathmandu by May 19, 2022. Likewise, you’ll be departing from Kathmandu on June 4, 2022.