November 06, 07, 2006 - We are in Tengboche for two days...

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We are in Tengboche for two days so that we can attend the Mani Rimdu festival, held each year by the monks and lamas of the Khumbu. After spending the first evening and morning in Tengboche, we can see why the Buddhist monks built their most important monastery on this small plateau. In every direction, magnificent mountain peaks can be seen. At night, the mountains glow eerily in the distance, and in the morning they are brilliantly lit by the rising sun.

On the first morning, we rose early to watch the sunrise. We then walked over to the monastery and sat on one side of the inner sanctuary as the lamas and monks performed Sherpa Buddhist rituals. The monks were garbed in maroon robes and wore saffron colored headpieces; there was chanting, drum beating and drones from 12 foot long horns. For almost an hour, we were the only visitors in the sanctuary and shared the calm.


In the afternoon, the lamas and monks blessed shawls brought by people who came from all over the Khumbu. First there was a procession to an outdoor ceremonial area, and then the monks, nuns, village elders and were seated on carpets in an ordered pattern, with villagers around them. One by one, they gave their shawls for blessing by one of the lamas, later to be hung in a place of honor in their homes.

After an evening of good cheer (and good food) in our lodge, we went to bed able to see Everest and Lothse from our window. We rose to breathtaking views, and after breakfast again went to the monastery for what would be a full day of dance to drumbeats, tambourines and horns. A series of immensely colorful dances, with dancers wearing red, blue, green and cream colored-masks of animals and spirits, both good and evil, ran the gamut of drama and comedy. The dance festival was held in an outdoor courtyard of the monastery, and was filled with local families and lots of tourists. Marsha had the opportunity to offer the space next to her to a Sherpa woman and her 3

year old daughter and ended up with the young girl on her lap for much of the morning; a very special treat for Marsha.

We had to leave the festival and Tengbouche by noon so that we could get to Namche before sundown. We had a five and half hour trek down to the river and then up again (of course). This time Marsha was almost able to keep up with Jack as the altitude went down a bit and it was easier to breathe. We arrived in Namche just as the sun was setting and a light rain was beginning to fall. We continue to be amazed at our ability to manage the long days of walking up and down hill.