The Tiji Festival is the most propitious festival in the Upper Mustang region of Nepal. Ancient mythology tells how the Tiji Festival was celebrated to mark the victory of good over evil. It is believed that what is now the Mustang region was in trouble, and was being destroyed by a demon who spread disease and took away water. Dorje Jono fought and defeated this demon and the festival celebrates his victory with prayer chants and colorful dances.
Dorje Jono (known also as Dorje Phurba, Vajrakila, or Vajrakumar) is the name of a deity in Vajrayana Buddhism, an age-old Buddhist practice in India and Nepal. The Buddhist masters Padmasambhava, Vimalamitra and Shilamnju (of Nepal) went on to introduce this practice to Tibet during the 8th century CE, where it then branched into many lineages.
Padamasambhava instructed the major steps in the sacred dance of Vajrakila at Samye Monastery in Tibet. Chhode Monastery at Lo Manthang in Upper Mustang is famous for its performance of Vajrakila practice and ritual.
However, the Tiji Festival in Upper Mustang did not start until the 17th century, when the Mustangi King Samdup Rabten invited Sakya Trizin Ngawang Kunga Sinam to come to Lo Manthang. He stayed at Lo Manthang’s Chhode Monastery and performed the special Vajrakila ritual for the wellbeing of all sentient beings, and also to dispel all negative elements in Mustang.