Mani Rimdu takes place from the first day of the tenth month of the Tibetan lunar calendar, falling between mid-October and mid-November. It lasts until the nineteenth day of the month. From the beginning until the end of the festival, 24 hours Puja (rituals) will be performed by the monks to consecrate the Mandala, the Mani Rilwu (sacred pills), the Tshereel (pills for long life) and the Torma.
The Sand Mandala
The sand mandala is carefully constructed, grain by grain, from colored sand. It is an intricate and symbolic design that takes many days to complete. Protective dagger deities are placed around the mandala, and the bowl of Mani Rilwu pills (spiritual medicine) is placed above the center.
The mandala becomes the palace of Garwang Thoze Chenpo, the Lord of the Dance; an emanation of the Buddha of Compassion, and the central deity of Mani Rimdu. The mantra "OM AH HUNG RHI, OM MANI PADME HUMG", is repeated thousands of times by the monks, during weeks of ceremony preceeding the public festival. During their meditation, they visualize compassion flowing in the form of the mantra, into the Mandala and the Mani Rilwu Pills. Compassion then radiates out from the Mandala, blessing all those who attend the Mani Rimdu festival.
During their meditation, the monks visualize all their compassion flowing in the form of the mantra into the mandala and the rilwu pills. From the mandala, compassion radiates out, blessing all those who come to Chiwong.
The Rilwu Pills
Rinpoche calls this "liberation by eating". The Rilwu are distributed to everyone, after he gives a long life empowerment to the people who come.
The torma is made from barley flour and decorated with colored butter. It begins by symbolising the body of the deity, and by the end of the ceremony, symbolises enlightenment itself. It stands in the front of the mandala on its own shrine, at the very heart of the temple.