Dumji Festival in Everest Region, The Sherpas are a small, ethnically Tibetan people who live at high altitudes in the environs of Mt. Everest in Solu-Khumbu, a relatively remote area in the north eastern part of the “Hindu Kingdom of Nepal”. Traditionally, their economy has combined agriculture with herding and local as well as long-distance trade. Since the middle of the 20th century they have been successfully engaged in the trekking and mountaineering boom. Organised in patrilineal clans, they live in nuclear family households in small villages, hamlets, and isolated homesteads. Property in the form of herds, houses and land is owned by nuclear families.
Among the Sherpas, Dumji, the famous masked dance festival, is held annually in the village temple of only eight local communities in Solu-Khumbu. According to lamas and laypeople alike Dumji represents the most important village celebration in the Sherpas’ annual cycle of ceremonies. The celebration of the Dumji festival is reflective of both Tibetan Buddhism and its supremacy over authochtonous be lief systems, and the way a local community constructs, reaffirms and represents its own distinct local
tradition by way of the worship of local deities. Its elaborate performance follows a ritual pattern that is rooted in and governed by Tibetan Buddhism. In each place, however, the ritual performance of the masked dance celebration is staged in public according to a particular local tradition. As will be shown, it is the general ritual pattern of the Mindroeling tradition of “public festivals” and its sacred dances, an influential sub-school of the Nyingma order, that has been made use of as an overall ritual structure into which the distinct local tradition of the Dumji festival in Gompa Zhung has been inserted.
One of the greatest and very special festivals taking place in the Khumbu area during the month of May or June every year, Dumji is celebrated with much enthusiasm by the Sherpa community. Along with the serious rituals and dances performed by the monks, the festival is celebrated with dance, drinks and merry making to honor the anniversary of Guru Rinpoche’s birth on the lotus flower. The first person to start the festival was Lama Sangwa Dorje, who is also the founder of the earliest monasteries of Khumbu region. He first started the festival in Pangboche about 360 years ago, in order to coincide it with the birth anniversary of Guru Rimpoche. The festival has both, the religious as well as community values. Every twenty year, it comes upon one family has to provide food and drink for the entire village during the celebration that lasts for four days. Each family, in turn, has to provide for the festival for the village which is quite costly and sometimes might result in bankruptcy. There are four laws to be chosen to undertake the responsibility of conducting the festival. It is performed by the Tengboche Monks in Tengboche, Namche Bazar, Khumjung and Pangboche of Khumbu and Junbesi of Solukhumbu. Among these, the festival in Namche is the most interesting and popular one. As the Tengboche Rinpoche might alter the schedule, depending upon the local events, the dates may vary by one or more days.
The first few days of the celebration are rather simple with just the local families visiting each other for food and entertainment. The festival is celebrated in all the Sherpa settlements during the month of May or June and also the Sherpas of Kathmandu and Helambu regions participate in dancing on this day. This being the time of monsoon, no other such festivals are celebrated, hence, it becomes one of the important festival of the month.
One of the major festivals of the Sherpa community, Dumji is celebrated with dancing, drinking and merry making along with rituals and dances by the monks.
For Trip to dumji festival: http://www.nepalvisitors.com/dumji-festival-trek/
Useful resources for Dumji Festival: http://himalaya.socanth.cam.ac.uk/collections/journals/ebhr/pdf/EBHR_25&26_07.pdf