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FABULOUS FESTIVALS OF SIKKIM

 
 


Sikkim
is a lot like Singapore as far as festivals and their celebrations go. While the three ethnic races- the Bhutia, the Lepchas and the Nepalese- all have their own traditional festivals, it is common for the people of Sikkim to take part in each others' festivals with uninhibited gusto. The rich tapestry of intermingling cultures is not only a great reflection of social harmony and bonding, but also results in a bustling calendar of festivals and events. Its colourful festivals depict a rich cultural heritage with deep cultural roots. Amongst the more famous ones are :
 

 
  JANUARY  
 

Maghe Sankranti Mela : This takes place on 13-15 January on the first day of Magh. People are  in a carnival mood thronging the colourful local 'melas' or fairs held at several places like Saramsa, Singtam and Jorethang.
 

 
  FEBRUARY-MARCH  
 

Guthor Chaam at Rumtek Monastary & Pemayangtse Monastery: Performed two days prior to Losar or the Tibetan New Year, this Chaam or dance depicts the battle between good and evil and the ritualized destruction of evil.
 

 
 

LOSSAR: Lossar is the Tibetan New Year festival that falls in the month of February & is marked with lot of gaiety & festivities at home with family gatherings & in monasteries.
 

 
 

Bhumchu at Tashiding: The Bhumchu, which takes place on the 14th and 15th days of the 1st Month of the lunar calendar corresponding to Feb-March, is one of Sikkim's most intriguing festivals. The water contained in the sacred bhumpa or vase used by Guru Padmasambhava is measured out into 21 cups of equal measure. The level of water is studied to divine the fortunes of Sikkim for the next year. Devotees from Nepal, Bhutan and the neighbouring hills all come for a taste of the sacred water. The vase is replenished with river water & sealed at the end of the festival to be opened only in the next Bumchu.
 

 
 
  MAY  
 

Saga Dawa : This Buddhist festival falls on the 15th day, full moon of the 4th Tibetan month and is the Triple Blessed Festival that celebrates the birth, enlightenment and nirvana of Lord Buddha. You can get the blessings of the Holy Scriptures that are carried in procession by monks, students and devotees in most of the important monasteries.
 

 
  JULY  
 

Drukpa Tseshi : This commemorates Buddha's first teaching of the Four Noble Truths on the 4th day of the 6th month of the lunar calendar. The main monasteries conduct prayers.
        • Truth of suffering
        • Truth of the origin of suffering Karma & delusion & their causes.
        • Truth is the cessation of the suffering or the attainment of Nirvana.
        • Truth of the “Eight fold path” leading to Nirvana.
 

 
  AUGUST  
 

Tendong Lho Rum Faat : On 8th August, the Lepchas worship Mount Tendong which they believe saved their race from destruction by a great flood. While Lepcha 'bongthings' or priests worship Mt. Tendong in South Sikkim, in Gangtok, the Lepchas take part in day-long literary and cultural programmes in all their traditional costumes.
 

 
  SEPTEMBER  
 

Pang Lhabsol : Pang Lhabsol is the festival dance in worship of Dzo-nga, the personification of Mt. Khangchendzonga on the 15th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar. This festival is unique to Sikkim wherein the gods are called upon to witness the reiteration of the faith of the people of Sikkim. This festival marks the signing of the “Treaty of Brotherhood” between the Lepchas & Bhutias by “Khye Bhumsa” & “Thekong Tek”. You will also see the spectacular 'Pangtoed' or warrior dance that is unique to Sikkim. Earlier this used to be celebrated at Tsuklakhang, the Royal Chapel at Gangtok but since its discontinuation there, Ravangla in South Sikkim comes alive during Pang Lhabsol.
 

 
  OCTOBER  
 

Durga Puja/Dasain : This showcases the most important festival of the Nepalese Hindus, held on the first day of the bright half of the lunar month of Aswin to commemorate the victory of good over Evil. The elders of the family apply “Tika” a red powder mark on the forehead of the younger ones & bless them. Goddess Durga is propitiated with sacrifices. Tyohar, coinciding with Diwali, is also celebrated soon after, with traditional caroling called 'Bhailo' and 'Deusi'.
 

 
  DECEMBER – JANUARY  
 

Kagyed Dances at Old Rumtek, Lingdum and Phodong monasteries on the 28th and 29th Days of the 10th month where themes from Buddhist mythological are enacted and there is a symbolic burning of the forces of evil and inviting an auspicious new year.

 
 

Lossong : The famous Bhutia festival marks the end of the harvest season & also the end of the Tibetan year during the month of December or January. Chaam (ceremonial dance) held at the monasteries at Tsuklakhang, Phodong & Rumtek, archery competitions & other festivities at home with family gatherings mark the occasion. The ritual dance symbolizes the exorcising of the evil spirits of the year & the welcoming of the good spirits of the New Year.
 

 
  HAPPENINGS  
 

The Flower Festival is held year round at the White Hall complex at Gangtok where orchid lovers are inexorably drawn towards the semi permanent orchid display. Competitions are held in various categories around March-May when all the orchids, rhododendrons, gladioli, magnolias and other flowers are in full bloom and at the height of their glory. Sikkim Tourism is working towards making this an international flower festival in the year 2008 around March-May. The collective charms of orchids, roses, alpine plants, and other beauties from the plant kingdom will mesmerize you at the Flower Show. There is a large glass house that hosts the flower show. The small artificial stream complete with a rustic eco-friendly bridge in the centre of the Flower Show will fascinate kids. Centre stage, of course, is hogged by the orchids alone. Fish dart out like quicksilver when not hiding in the murkier corners. You can even buy plants to take home. A food festival is also held during the tourist season. Namchi in South Sikkim also hosts a similar Flower festival.