Tiji Festival, also known as Tenchi in Mustang Nepal, is the ritual celebrated by the indigenous people of Lo-Manthang. It is a colorful festival celebrated by Tibetan Buddhists once a year for three days with the belief of victory of good over bad or evil. 

According to ancient history, Dorje Jono, a deity in Vajrayana Buddhism, also known as Dorje Phurba, Vajrakila, or Vajrakumar, fought against his father, who was a devil. The deeds of his father devasted the people by making the scarcity of water and bought fear among them. After knowing the truth about his father, Dorje Jono fought with him and got victory over the devil. From that day, in honor of the legend Dorje Jono, the Tiji festival is celebrated in Mustang. 

Which time of the year is the Tiji Festival celebrated?

Tiji Festival is one of the promising and lunar festivals. Before, the festival was celebrated at the end of the 12th month of the Tibetan calendar. However, nowadays, it is performed on 3rd month, i.e., May. 

Rituals/Things performed

As the festival is celebrated for three days in Mustang, here are the rituals/things performed during the time.

Day 1st of the festival

On this day, ‘Tsa Chaam,’ the ritual dance is performed by the monks. It is presented in such a way that tells the story of Dorje Jono ( Dorje Jono, who fought the devil for peace and prosperity of the Kingdom). It is also said that Dorje Jono reincarnated as Buddha to battle against the demon. While dancing, the monks show the harassment of the beasts over the people living in Mustang. 

Day 2nd of the festival 

On this day, ‘Nga Cham’ dance is performed by the monk. The performance shows the Dorje Jono trying to return the devils to the Buddha world/Kingdom. 

Day 3rd of the festival

On the third day of the Tiji festival, ‘Rha Chham’ dance is performed by the monks. It is the final day of the festival and the performance of monks which shows the victory of Dorje Jono over the demons and banish them from his Kingdom. 

Every year the Tiji festival is celebrated with the belief to bring peace and prosperity in the Mustang. Before the event starts, Tsowo, who is the leading dancer, completes a three-month retreat. All the people and the Royal family of Mustang of seven provinces, called Lo Chhodun, participate in the rituals. The meditation practice is also done based on Tantra related to Vajra Kila. 

In the meditation build-up, two kinds of activities are there. One is a peaceful dance, and the other is the Mele or second stage of the dance. With two main events, there are three stages of the dance. The first stage has 15 steps, and the other two phases, which are the main parts ‘generation of celestial palace’ and ‘ generation of deities’. Therefore all the performance in Tiji Festival is related to show the victory of good over bad. 

What permits are required to attend the Tiji festival?

You need to have the Mustang Trek permits that costs:

  • Mustang restricted permit all nations, including Indian: US$ 500 per person for the 10 days and USD 50 per additional day.
  • ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area Project Permit) US$ 27 or NPR 3000
  • For SAARC Nation ACAP permit cost NPR 1,000 and TIMS NPR 200
  • ACAP entry fee for a local tourist (Nepali nation) NPR 100

However, for the Tiji festival, you need to have permits for 2 more extra days, which cost USD 50 per day. 

Climate during Tiji Festival

Tiji festival is celebrated at the end of May or starting of June. For hiking in Nepal, this time of the year is considered a favorable month. The temperature is 16 degrees Celcius to 22 degrees Celcius at the daytime, whereas -6 degree Celcius to -2 degree Celcius at the nighttime. 

In May, the flow of people in Nepal from around the world is high. You may face a crowdy route on the way to trek. While you are on the Tiji Festival trek, you can enjoy the view of mountains and nature as the weather is clear with fantastic visibility in May and June. 

Accommodation during Tiji Festival

Accommodation is not at all issue in Upper Mustang as the area has started tea houses and homestay to spring up lately. You were supposed to bring your own tents in the past but now it is no longer an issue due to the high demand from the trekkers. 

However, you need to be aware during the festival season. The tea houses could be jam-packed and may not have availability everywhere. In the Tiji Festival, several locals and foreign trekkers would also take part in the festivities. If you do not find the Tea house accommodation, your only option is a homestay. This is an enjoyable experience if you want to know more about the local people in the area and experience their culture first hand.

Outline Itinerary for Tiji festival on Visit Nepal year 2020

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