Monday, June 4, 2007

Mani Rimdu

Mani Rimdu is the highlight of the Buddhist calendar in the Khumbu. It's a festival celebrated at 2 monasteries (Gompas) at different times of the year. The Thami Gompa is favoured because of the abbots more liberal attitude to drinking and dancing in the evening. The second day of the festival coincided with a rest day we had on the way back from Gokyo (more in another post) and so I decided to go along.

A measure of our attitude to walking after 5 weeks of trekking is that although the festival was a five and a half hour round trip with some moderate climbs, this counted as only a 'medium' in our new trekking lives. So I decided to toddle along. I couldn't persuade Mary to join me. I suspect her vague interest in Tibetan Buddhism may have been offset by the 11 hours walking the previous 'big' day. No matter. Incomprehensible ritual and religion awaited and nothing could stop me!

The best way to describe Mani Rimdu was a cross between a dance festival, music recitation and pantomime act - complete with comedy sketches. The Gompa is populated with monks and lamas and it was the lamas who danced and performed for the excited Sherpa audience. Lamas are important spiritual leaders and set apart from the other monks by heaving been identified as the reincarnation as previous Lamas, so that the current Lamas are several generations removed from the 'original' Lama, while being exactly the same person. Hope you're following. I'll try and explain a little more about Tibetan Buddhism when we reach Tibet. Sherpas were Tibetans not so long ago incidentally, hence the practice.

I sat between two old Sherpa geezers during the performances who seemed to enjoy proceedings immensely, laughing and rolling around at all the best jokes. One of them took the trouble to explain to me the meaning of each dance and ritual in great detail. I'd pass on this wisdom as a detailed description to each picture, except that he was speaking in Nepali.

I stayed far too long at the festival which meant a moonlit walk home to Mary in Namche Bazaar. A moonlit walk alone though a Nepali forest is an interesting experience, but I've still managed to avoid becoming Yeti fodder!



On the horn - Mr Lama and the jazz man himself, Mr Lama!


On the triangle - Mr Lama!


Mani Rimdu celebrates the triumph of Buddhism over Bon, the ancient Tibetan religion. Confusingly, many of the Bon gods were 'converted' to Buddhism too. Throw in some Hindu influences and you have the most confusing array of gods, buddhas, bodhisattvas, demons, guardians and lamas. So this masked figure could be anyone. Sorry I can't be more help. I'm working on it.


This is definitely a bad guy, so probably a Buddhist demon or Bon chappy.

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