ABOUT THE AREA,
Major Festivals around Mustang
The monasteries and religious places of Mustang serve not only as places of worship and cultural identity but also as places of celebration. After one celebration it is usually not long before the halls of mud and stone are once again ringing with the sounds of bells, drums, dancing and laughter.
The main festival of LoManthang is the Tenji, or Teeji festival. Tenji is an abbreviated form of ‘Tempa Chhirim which means ‘prayer for world peace’. This is a festival that is indigenous to LoManthang and commemorates the victory of Dhorje Sonam, an incarnation of the Buddha, over the demon called Ma Tam Ru Ta who wreaked havoc on humans in the form of storms, floods and droughts. One monk must stay in seclusion for three months prior to the festival to prepare for the role of Dhorje Sonam in the ritual dances. On the third day of the ceremony in dance, he defeats an effigy of the demon. Tenji falls on the 27th-29th of the third month in the Tibetan calendar which is in late April or early May.
Yartung is a festival that is celebrated all over Mustang and is especially big in Muktinath. It is also a three-day celebration in the 7th or 8th month of the Tibetan calendar, or in August every year. It is celebrated by horse racing, drinking and dancing. A special horse for the god of Yartung is brought out for him to ride. The first day the King’s activities take place, the second day the monks’, and the third day the local people’s activities are done. Other important festivals include Lhosar (New Year), Dhajyang (Festival of Archery) and Fangyal (festival of taking rest) etc.
It is a masked dance performed by monks that take place at Kuchup Terenga monastery of Thini, Tashi Lha Khang monastery of Syang, Samteling monastery of Marpha and Kyupar monastery of Tukche in October/November.
Larjung-Kobang hosts a major festival every 12 years for about 18 days called Lha Phewa (lit. Appearance of the Gods). The festival is observed with the very idea of bringing together the entire clan members (the Gauchan, Tulachan, Sherchan and Bhattachan) of the Thakalis of Thak Khola; to hear and celebrate the origins and emergence of their forefathers. The ceremony describes and dramatizes the glorious history of the origins of the Thakalis through the recitation of the Rhab (Chronical). Four structures representing the deities of four Thakali clans are carried in procession from one place to another location during this festival.
It is one of the most important annual festivals of the Thakali community. It is celebrated as Thakali New Year for a week in entire Thak Khola valley which falls in February/March. Archery, worship of ancestors, singing and dancing take place during the festival. Another festival is Syoben Lhaba (Kumar Jatra) and worshipping of NariJyoba in August/September.