Dumji Festival 2022 began at Lukla
Dumji Festival 2022
The most awaited annual Sherpa festival has begun this week in Lukla, Everest. It’s Dumji Festival 2022, Lukla. Notably known as the masked dance festival of Sherpas. This Everest festival is held annually in the village monastery of local Sherpa communities in Solu Khumbu. This year the Dumje festival puja has brought joy and enthusiasm among the Sherpa people. The Dumje puja was halted for 2 years during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It has impacted the regular practice of ritual ceremony dance wearing masks and brings a difference in social structure. This turmoil has forgotten the gathering among villagers where they could enjoy and practice Buddhism during the musical event.
This week, the festival is taking place in the courtyard of Thaktul Monastery situated at the gateway of Everest. It is a festival of colorful masked dance, chanting Tibetan Buddhist mantras, and merrymaking. This time, people are encouraged and happy to revive the festival. Their faces are filled with joy. Monks are prepared to celebrate this commemoration with enthusiasm in the presence of local Sherpas in this village temple in Solu Khumbu. This spring, the trekking has opened. Many foreigners are seen in Lukla for Everest trekking. Few of them have participated in the Dumji Festival 2022 at Lukla monastery.
Lukla Village and the Village Gompa
Lukla is a small town in Solu Khumbu located at an altitude of 2860 m (9,383 ft) from sea level. The town inhabits a mixed race of people from a different ethnic groups but the Sherpa population has the majority. As this village has grown into a popular tourism hub, you can witness the modern facilities and services moving ahead from the thin airstrip of Lukla. You can enjoy the modern taste the Starbucks Coffee, enjoy Italian Pizza, or indulge in Sherpa cuisine like Potato pancakes, Butter Salt Tea, and many more. On reaching Lukla, you can experience the fresh air coming from the Tarik, Phari Himal, and Kwangde mountains in the south and 5000m peaks in the north. The colorful Buddhist flags fluttered in the air to welcome you. The monastery is near the village of Nyingma tradition. Here, all the ritual activities and religious events are performed.
Significance of Dumji Festival
Dumji festival has its own historical, cultural, religious, and spiritual significance among local Sherpa Communities. It is believed that Sangwa Dorji initiated this festival for the first time in Everest Region. He is also regarded as the founder to build a monastery in Khumbu Valley.
The festival is performed to mark the birth anniversary of Guru Rinpoche born on the lotus flower. He is the most venerated Buddhist master and founder of Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet. Thus, the Sherpa community marks this Dumji festival with traditional Syabru dance, dressed in traditional attire, drinking chhyang (local fermented beer), and merrymake at the end. It is also the opportunity to ward off the evil spirits from the villages and to bring good auspices. The lamas, monks, and the village people of Solu Khumbu pray for peace and prosperity for all the living beings around this world.
Each year Dumji festival is celebrated for 4 days. Lukla Kemgum Gumpa, a committee of Sherpas for conservation and development has announced the date of the Dumji festival 2022. This year, Lukla Kemgum Gumpa has scheduled the date for the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th of June 2022.
How the Dumji festival is performed?
A month before the commencement of the Dumje Festival, preparation begins in the village. Every member of the village takes equal responsibility for the preparation of the festival. Only 4 representatives are selected from their clan. Here, the work is distributed voluntarily. These appointees are called Chiwa. Locals call it “Lawa” in Khumba while Farak calls it “Zindak“. Being Chiwa is a matter of pride for the Sherpa people. It is a meritorious act and the best way to practice altruism. Their roles are changed every year in rotation. They patronize the economic burden of the festival.
4 days of Dumji Festival Puja
This festival is celebrated mainly for four days.
1st Day of Dumji Festival (LAPSANG):
It began on 5th June 2022. On this day, the lama performs a special dance called Ngawa, special ritual worship to the protector deities namely Mahakalas and Dharmapalas (Chhoken). Only the members of the monastery participate in this routine. The villagers and the outsiders are not allowed to participate.
2nd Day of Dumji Festival (JINGSANG)
On this day, the door of the Thaktul Monastery is opened for all. In the evening, the sound of Tibetan musical instruments played inside the village temple invites the locals and foreigners to witness the ritual masked dance ceremony. It’s staged in a dramatic setting. As you can see, some monks are seen busy playing musical instruments, some recite mantras and texts while some are ready to perform in wrathful masks.
Each monastery has its own set of dances. In Junbesi, you can witness monks performing 6 varieties of dance. But in Lamabagar, there are 11 varieties. However, there is a common dance performance displayed in different Sherpa communities in Solu Khumbu. It is a dramatic performance related to the history of Tibet. In this act, it is portrayed how Langdarma, (the king of Tibet practicing the Bon religion) was killed by Palgyi Dorje (protector of Buddhism) in disguise. This part brings excitement to the attendants.
After the dance program, the Sherpa people offer food grains and white scarfs to the masked dancers. They revered these monks as the embodiment of divine begins and pray to subdue evil spirits and bring good luck.
3rd Day of Dumji Festival
Also called Lokpar where the Thaktul Monastery is decorated with multiple lights mostly butter lamps. And tormas are prepared with the effigy of 3 animals; ox, pig, and horse. At first, the torma of Lokpar is worshipped as Guru Rinpoche and later it is burnt believing that the enemies are all subdued.
After ritual dances, torma is taken out of the monastery by a man of middle status. He is called Pesyangba in Junbesi but Gemaka in Khumbu. Based on the Tibetan Astrology book, this torma is either burnt or thrown away. In Solu Khumbu, the lamas utter mantras followed by the sounds from the attendants to fight the evil forces in this universe. Then a fire is lit to blaze the torma. Thus it is assumed those evil forces are subdued.
4th Day of Dumji Festival (CHHEWANG)
This is the day of blessings. The abbot of the monastery gives blessing to all the attendants. The lamas distribute “Chhwa” the offering of the dumje festival to them and share merits of goodwill. The Sherpa people actively participate in this event. They wear traditional attire and perform traditional Syabru dance in the courtyard. They also invite guests to their homes and celebrate the festival with joy and happiness. They drink, sing and dance together.
Furo Tradition and Social Struture
It is the tradition of drinking Chhyang (local fermented beer) among relatives and friends in a drinking cup called Furo on the 4th day. Here, you can witness the societal distribution of Sherpas in their community. While drinking chhyang, if the Sherpa uses the same cup, then it represents him/her from the same clan. If there is a change in cups or different cups are used, then it means the attendant is from a non-Sherpa community, an outsider, or a lower status of Sherpa. This practice is prevalent to maintain their identity.
How to participate in Dumji Festival?
A few months before the festival, the monastery committee punctuates the dates of the festival. Following the Tibetan astrology book, these dates are announced and you can plan your trip accordingly. Or you can get information from Precious Adventures Team.
We, Precious Adventures have an expert team specializing in Himalayan Buddhist Treks and Tours in Nepal. We have guides from every corner of Nepal and they know the place like a fine wine. Our purpose is to indulge in culture, meet people, share happiness and create the best experiences for both people and their community.
For Dumji Festival, we suggest you have a guided adventure. As Dumje festival is celebrated in various village temples of Everest. We know those places, know monks and lamas, and tell you where to sit and what to do during your participation in the Dumji festival. We promise you to make this adventure incredibly enjoyable, fun, and memorable. At least you can tell a few words in Sherpas and move some dance steps like monks in the mask.
How to reach there?
We can take a roller coaster flight from Kathmandu to Tenzing-Hillary Airport, Lukla. It takes around 35 flights to reach here. During the busy schedule in autumn, they do flights from Manthali Airport instead of Kathmandu Airport. We have an alternative trail through Phaplu by jeep then walking 2 days to Lukla. Sometimes, there are flights from Phaplu Airport to Lukla.
Lukla Thaktul Monastery has celebrated its annual Dumje festival puja with joy in the mutual gathering. This festival is characterized by the number of colorful mask dances, rituals, legendary events, and the practice of altruism. For the festival, the unity and communication of Sherpa people from the community play a vital role. It started 30 days before the festival come into execution. In the Sherpas’ annual cycle of festivals, the Dumji festival is one of the most important ceremonies. It represents how the local Sherpa community constructs, exchange their discrete cultural values, and follow their local way to worship their local deities.
It is also celebrated every year at various villages of Everest namely Tyangboche, Namche, Phakding, Junbesi, Chiwang, etc. on different dates.