Dumje- a Masked Festival is an ethnographic description of the great performance as celebrated annually according to the tradition of the Lamaserwa clan (Sherpa) in the village temple of Gonpa Zhung, Solukhumbu. Dumje festival celebrates and honor’s the anniversary of Guru Rinpoche. This festival is celebrated by performing various masked dance in the traditional musical beats.
Dumje festival is celebrated in various places such as Junbesi of Solukhumbu and Tengboche, Namche bazaar, Khumjung, and Pangboche of Khumbu Region. The festival is observed for the total of 4 days and falls in the month of May or June every year. The same festival is also observed in the month of January at the Gompa of Lamobagar village of Dolakha district.
People of the Sherpa community celebrate this festival gathering in the nearby monastery. During the festival the children, adults and elderly people are well dressed. They prepare their special drinks, foods and sweets for themselves and their relatives. The Sherpa’s observe this festival with joy and gaiety. Different pujas are performed during the event with the monks chanting prayers and beating drums. The reason of performing this puja is to pacify the deities because they might be angry with the pollution that was made by people in the past years. Overall the Dumje festival is characterized by the number of religious and legendary dances, the exorcism rites and the meditative worship.
Lamas playing traditional instruments during Dumje
Mani Rimdu, held during the tenth lunar month of the Tibetan calendar (right after the full moon of autumn), is an important festival of Sherpa people. Though, it is performed in three monasteries; Chiwong, Thami and Tengboche, it is observed with eminence in Tengboche monastery. It is celebrated for about two weeks, but only three days starting on the 13th or 14th day are significant for the villagers as they get the public audience of Rinpoche and the performances.
‘Mani’ means “part of the chant of Chenrezig” and ‘Rimdu’ means small red pills that are distributed at the end of the festival. It begins with an extensive portrayal of colorful mandala. The monks, with colorful masks and costumes perform a series of sixteen ritualistic dances depicting the triumph. Hundreds of Sherpas from all over Khumbu attend the festival, as it offers them the symphony of cultural spectacle and religious revelation. And apparently, tourists are no exception to it!
Masked Dance during Mani Rumdi
Text: Kritee Singh and Menuka Gurung
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