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Dancing in Nepal

By Linda Tancs

It’s a festive time of year in the Khumbu region of Nepal.  Following the autumn moon this month, the monks of Tengboche begin a solemn ritual of chant and dance for the sherpa community (and international visitors who don’t mind heights).  Known as Mani Rimdu, the festival is one of the most sacred and highly anticipated annual events celebrating Buddhism in the Himalayas.  The monks, dressed in flowing orange robes and bright yellow headgear resembling a crescent moon, prepare for the 3-day festival with the drawing of a giant sand mandala symbolizing beauty and its impermanent nature.  Intricate dances alternate between highly theatrical (including the famous mask dances) and subdued, telling the story of the defeat by Padmasambhava of the evil spirits of the Bon religion and the conversion of the people to Buddhism.  The mountain air gets mighty cold this time of year.  Warm up at the fire puja (or offering) on the third day, when the evil spirits of the world are said to melt away and peace returns to the mountain kingdom.

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