Blog on Sikkim.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Festivals in Sikkim

FROM Outstanding India

Introduction


A sacred pot, Bumchu contains holy water which is blessed by Ngadak Sempa Chenpo after he said the Mane Mantra five billion times. The amount of water in the Bumchu is said to predict the fate of Sikkim for the whole year. If it is seen that the Bumchu is full to the brim it signifies that the year will be a year of revolutions and turmoil. On the other hand if the level of the water is low then the year will be affected by ailments and diseases. However if the Bumchu is half full, then the year will be a prosperous one.

It is seen over ages that the holy water has not dried up or has got spoiled in more than 300 years. It still smells fresh.

Description

Bumchu Festival attracts thousand of devotees from Nepal, Bhutan, Darjeeling and other neighboring places. It is celebrated at the Tashiding Monastery. During the Bumchu Festival, lamas of the monastery open the Bumchu for the public display which is otherwise locked. Some of the holy water is distributed to the devotees after which the Bumchu is again sealed to be opened next year.

Time to celebrate

Bumchu is celebrated sometime between January and February.

Drupka Teshi

Introduction to the Drupka Teshi

"Easy to do are things that are bad and not beneficial to self; But very, very hard to do indeed is that which is beneficial and good", said the Buddha in Dhammapada, the sacred book of the Buddhists. Buddha was a Universal preacher of Truth and Justice and is regarded as the savior of Mankind. People pay homage by lighting lamps at Monasteries to please the supreme Lord, Gautama Buddha.

Lord Buddha preached the aficionados the correct path for the fulfillment of their lives. He said that the path is not complete abstinence from flesh and fish, nor is that of dwindling in mud and abandoning all worldly attires, but to refine the mind from the bondage that make us execute evil deeds.

These actions comes to our mind in the following way; resentment, covetousness, avarice, sloth, gluttony, envy are regarded as the cardinal sins that tempts a man to perform harmful deeds so that he looses his stronghold in the path of truth and shifts from there. So, one has to leave these habits first before being enlightened.

Description to the Drupka Teshi

Buddha preached the noble truths on the grounds of Benares. He left his wife and family and lead the life of a beggar. He begged from place to place and at last came to his hometown where his wife and sons greeted him with much hope. He started preaching his sermons at various places and became the Universal Lord amongst people irrespective of class and creed. He preached the path of Noble Truth which relieved men from the daily angst and made them aware of the right way of progress, to his followers at Sarnath also known as the Deer Park. The festival is conspicuous or the prayer ceremonies at the notable place named Muguthang, at North Sikkim it is followed by a Yak Race .

Time for the celebration of the Drupka Teshi

Drupka Teshi is held on the fourth day of the 6th Tibetan Month that falls round August.

Lhabab Dhuechein

Introduction to the Lhabab Dhuechein


Buddha was the enlightened one, because it is said in the Dhammapada that "A unique Being, an extraordinary Man arises in this world for the benefit of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the good, benefit, and happiness of gods and men. Who is this Unique Being? It is the Tathagata, the Exalted, Fully Enlightened One."

Sikkim lies in the eastern part of the Himalayas and is the located below the Mountain Kanchenjunga. The people of Sikkim regard Lord Khanchendzonga as their presiding deity. They also celebrate numerous festivals in honor of their Lords and Lhabab Dhuechein is one among them. This carnival is held in Sikkim with a tremendous zeal and fervor and the saga continues…

Description of the Lhabab Dhuechein

Sikkim is very renowned for abundant Buddhist Monasteries. It is said that Ashoka, the great Emperor of India is supposed to have sent an agent to the North and Sikkim was one of them. His main intention was to spread the message of Lord Buddha and make people embrace this religion so that life would become easy and more comfortable for them. It will enlighten them the truthful path of life, and bestow them the power obtain the proper means of livelihood.

Lord Buddha is said to be the direct descendant of God who came to earth much like Christ, in order to convince people to stay away from improper and unscrupulous means. The days of Buddha were full of conceited men who boasted on caste basis and this was something intolerable for the others, who ranked inferior to them.

So, there was a need for a separate religion where animal sacrifices and costly religious rites of the Brahmins were not compulsory. Lord Buddha born in a Kshatriya family, being a prince, came out one night tearing off his family bondages in search of enlightenment and he was successful. He was the right person who could teach humanity of the rightful path; so god selected him.

The people of Sikkim revere this angelic form of God in various forms and one of them is Lhabab Dhuechein. After his mother demised, Lord Buddha preached few of his indispensable sermons. It is to commit to memory that gloomy incident that Buddhists pay homage to the Lord in Monastery.

Time for the celebration of the Lhabab Dhuechein

Lhabab Dhuechein is celebrated on the 22nd day of the 9th Lunar Month every year.

Losoong Festival

Introduction to the Losoong Festival in Sikkim


India is a land of innumerable festivals, in tread with the cycle of the seasons. The Indian Calendar is replete with a long procession of fairs and festivals.. These fairs and festivals bestow color and gaiety to life of the Indians. Some festivals are fasts and specific protocols of religion while others are celebrated all throughout the country in different names. . The vivacity of the people is reflected in the colorful liveliness of the fairs and festivals. Processions, prayers, new attires, dance, music etc. are essentials related to any of such celebration. The Indian calendar is marked by superfluity of such big and small occasions. Some festivals are mainly of religious nature, and others are related more to, change of season and harvesting. They have a retentive past and many have gone through major alterations. Though, the fervor for some of the festivals also seems to be disappearing, yet they are capable of bringing about a change in the lifestyle of the people.

Time for celebrating the Losoong Festival in Sikkim

The Losoong Festival in Sikkim begins each year in the 10th month of the Tibetan calendar. Surely there can be no better time to plan your trip to Sikkim. It gives you the wonderful opportunity to be a part of a religious festival and fair and also be witness to the extravagant carnival.

Description of the Losoong Festival

Losoong Festival is another way of celebrating the Sikkimese New Year. Held in the tenth month of the Tibetan calendar, the Loosong Festival of Sikkim, at the end of the harvest season, rejoice and pray for a better harvest for the next year.

Held generally in the month of December, Loosong Festival is the most vibrant festival of Sikkim where one can get to see the customary Cham dance, the colorful garments and get the taste of mountain festive passion.

A traditional festival of the Bhutias, the Loosong Festival, is to welcome the new season with a magnificent exuberant celebrations. Also celebrated by the Lepchas, the Losoong festival fills the entire Sikkim with a festive spirit.

The traditional Cham dance takes place where the people dress up as divinities and perform the dance. The dances are a way to exorcize the evil spirits and welcome the good spirit of the Sikkim New Year.

If one wishes to be a part of the celebrations you can also take a sip of the local wine Chaang and get submerged in the festive mood.

The dances are performed at the monasteries at Tsuklakhang Palace, Phodong and Rumtek Monastery. The occasion is also celebrated by traditional archery competitions.

The Loosong Festival in Sikkim is an important festival and tourists from all over the world visit Sikkim to be a part of this sacred festival.

Saga Dawa

Introduction to the Saga Dawa


Sikkim is famous for masked dances and the festivals that exhibit rare and elegant colors that taint the carnival with a richness and diversity. One of the renowned festivals in Sikkim is the Saga Dawa which is performed in the state of Sikkim with awe and respect. This celebration specially belongs to the Mahayana Buddhists. This is a day for observing religious rites.

Description of the Saga Dawa

Saga Dawa is a sacred event in Sikkim. On the day of the Saga Dawa the people of Sikkim, especially the Mahayana Buddhists gather in temples and pay due honor to the Lord who has endowed them with various gifts along with the supreme bliss of life; life as we all know, is that milk of paradise which we drink till our last breath; it is god-gifted.

Buddhists of Sikkim gather in the temples and light up lamps in honor of the Supreme Lord; he is supposed to have enlightened the path of the travelers who travel eternally only to loose their way. When their path is lost they wander amidst the worries of life, but almighty come with a saving hand. The Mahayana Buddhists regard Buddha as their supreme Lord who enlightens their path of life. So, the Mahayana Buddhists of Sikkim light lamp to show gratitude to the Lord.

Butter lamps are usually lit and the ceremony is followed by a grand pageant which consists of Monks who moves along with Holy Scriptures, and chants hymn while moving forward. This pageant travels around the city of Gangtok and is an auspicious occasion. The convoy starts from the Tsuklakhang Monastery.

Time for the celebration of the Saga Dawa

This festival is usually held at the 4th month of the Buddhist Calendar. This is approximately in May or early June. It is a magnificent carnival of Sikkim.

Tihaar

Introduction to Tihaar


Tihaar in Sikkim is also known as the fiesta of lights and is the most popular carnivals in Sikkim. Since Sikkim is populated with Hindus and Tribal People, there are numerous festivals including the Hindu carnivals and Tribal Fiestas.

Tihaar is one of the Hindu Festivals of Sikkim and is synonymous to Deepavali or the festival of lights. In India Kali Puja is the time for the celebration of the Lamp Carnival when every where lamps are lit to get rid of darkness or ignorance. This concept coincides with the Lepcha concept the unity of India is hidden here.

Description of the Tihaar Festival

The festival of Deepavali is usually held in commemoration of the return of Rama and Laxmana after 14 years of exile, in the epic Ramayana. After their return the people of Ayodhya were so pleased that they lit lamps all round to please the brothers and Sita, the incarnation of Goddess Laxmi on earth, so they worship Mother Goddess Laxmi so that she may endow the people with opulence and wealth. The streets and houses were all extravagantly lit up, so that all evil spirits gush out from the nook and corner and sanctity prevail everywhere.

In Sikkim the festival is divided in to two halves. The first one is the Kak-Tihaar. It is a day when crows are given grains and if some are caught they are garlanded. The second day is known as Kukkor- Tihaar. On this day, dogs are given garlands. The third day, Cows are honored similarly and the fourth day is the turn of the Bullocks. On the fifth day, Brothers are given tikas by their sisters that would save their lives from any of the impending dangers and gifts are exchanged. On this day, considered to be highly auspicious, carols are sung. These are known as Bhailo and Deusi.

As you voyage past the exquisite ceremonies of Sikkim you may feel that the civilization of Sikkim is no less than that of any advanced country and you shall mutter that “Civilization is a movement and not a condition, a voyage and not a harbor” (Arnold J.Toynbee).

Time for the celebration of the Tihaar

The time for the celebration of the Tihaar Festival is during the dark half of Kartik Month. In English it coincides with October and November.

Dashain

Introduction to Dashain


Sikkim is embellished by the presence of the mighty Kanchenjunga range. The people of Sikkim adore the Lord Kanchenzdunga who is supposed to have risen in order to save the Lepchas from the mighty flood that prevailed in the old times.

Sikkim is inhabited by many, and the Hindus and the Tribal people constitute the population of Sikkim. The festivals in Sikkim are also divided between the years and when some of carnivals coincide the entire state seems to burst up with vibrancy and color. Dashain is one of the Hindu festivals and is celebrated with tremendous tempo and gusto.

Description of the Dashain Festival in Sikkim

The Dashain Festival coincides with the Durga Puja of Bengal, UP and Bihar. The Nepalese observe his fiesta as the time for entertainment and bliss. They exchange gifts and also enjoy the grand fiesta. It is said in the Mythologies that the Goddess Durga is one who fights for the good against the evil so that the destruction of the evil and the victory of the good happens.

It is said that Goddess Durga established that fete which was impossible for the other powerful Gods and Goddesses. So, she is being created by blending all the superior powers of Brahma, Vishnu and Lord Shiva. She destroyed the demon Mahisasura and save the throne of Lord Indra.

On the first day of the Puja, grains are sown in the soil which ensures a good harvest. After a week there is a Fulpati Meeting which is also known as the Day of the Flowers. After the Fulpati Fiesta the Maha Ashthami and the Kal Navami follows.

The 10th day is the most auspicious day and denote the victory of Rama over he powerful demon Ravana and is celebrated with tremendous zeal and enthusiasm as the Dussera in the rest of the country.

On that day it is mandatory for the citizens of Sikkim to smear their foreheads with colored rice and barley sprouts that were sown on the first day of the Puja. As you come to know of all the fairs and festivals of Sikkim you would feel that "As I make my slow pilgrimage through the world, a certain sense of beautiful mystery seems to gather and grow"(A.C Benson).

Time for the celebration of the Dashain

Dashain is usually celebrated on month of Sharat, which is between mid-septembers to mid October every year.

International Flower Festival

Why is International Flower Festival Celebrated


India is known for its many hued fairs and festivals that form an integral part of the attraction of the country. Each state, race and culture comes up with different fairs and festivals that are different from each other, each with different origin and each has a different way of celebration. The Indian calendar gives you a long list of fairs and festivals- in all corners of the country. Some festivals are famous celebrated by all over India while others are nondescript affairs.

Sikkim in North East India is surrounded by lofty mountains, paddy fields and orange orchards. The considerable range of climate and altitude is responsible for the immense variation in vegetation and wild life. The natural topography and climate supports the varied flowers that row naturally in every nook and corner of Sikkim.

Mention must be made of the rhododendron. There are about thirty species of the flower in Sikkim.

International Flower Festival, Gangtok showcases different varieties of flower that are native to Sikkim. This festival is held during the peak flowering season in Sikkim and attracts tourist from all over India.

Time for Celebrating International Flower Festival

International Flower Festiva in Gangtok takes place in May which is the peak flowering season in the state.

Description of International Flower Festival

Different species of flowers are showcased in the fair. Thirty species of exotic Rhododendron ranging from gigantic to 2 inches in length are exhibited in the show. The other pride of Sikkim is its orchid of which 400 different kind grow within its boundaries. Both the epiphyte and the terrestrial varieties are showcased. Different varieties of bamboo are also exhibited. Bamboo grow in abundance in Sikkim and forms an integral part of the daily needs of the people here.

Lossar

Introduction


The Tibetan New Year, popularly known as Lossar is a festival in Sikkim which is celebrated with a lot of fervor and enthusiasm. A harvest festival, Lossar is a significant day among the Tibetans.

Description

Also known as Gyalpo Lossar it is celebrated by visiting the monastery and after performing the rituals the people visit relatives and friends. Flowers are an important part of the Lossar Festival. Devotees greet each other with flowers. At Pemayangste, Lossar is preceded by Chaams or traditional dances.

Time to celebrate

Lossar Festival is celebrated in the month of February. It is celebrated by the Tibetans as a day of gaiety and celebration.

Phang Lhabsol

Introduction to the Phang Lhabsol Festival in Sikkim


Phang Lhabsol is among the popular festivals in Sikkim which is celebrated with a great deal of pomp and grandeur. It is amongst the popular carnivals in Sikkim and it endows color and elegance to the already colorful state. The rich and varied tints play a very significant role in the cultural fiesta.

Description of the Phang Lhabsol

At Sikkim the third largest Mountain called Kanchenjunga is located and it is replete with numerous Buddhist Monasteries. The Monasteries are the sites of pilgrimage for the Mahayana Buddhist and Hinayana Buddhists. The Phang Lhabsol is designated as the third Chogyal of Sikkim. The word Phang means witness. The third Chogyal of Sikkim is recognized for the task of maneuvering the Pang -Toed Dance of the present day Monks.

Chogyal is the chronological and religious king of Sikkim who presides over all the holy ceremonies and scrutinizes the fate of people. In Sikkim the people worship the Lord Khanchendzonga who is also known as Chakdor Namgyal. This is a fiesta that ensures fellow feelings amongst the Lepchas and the Bhutias. The feeling of brotherhood is not rational but is based on the concept of love preached by Lord Buddha, because “Feelings are not supposed to be logical. Dangerous is the man who has rationalized his emotions" (David Borenstein)

This process can only be attained by the implementation of Kye Bhumsa and Thekong Tek. On the day of the grand carnival the Lama displays the principal deity as a red –faced guardian angel, with a crown and five faces. He rides on a Snow Lion. The pageant show is exquisite and elegant, and is a remarkable show that deserves approbation and distinction.

Time for the celebration of the Phang Lhabsol

The pageantry is actually held in the month of August, on the 15th day. This is the day when India gained independence and is therefore the crucial time for the Indians. Invoking God on that day is regarded as very auspicious; the people of Sikkim seem to do that on behalf of the country.

Tendong Lho Rum Faat

Introduction to Tendong Lho Rum Faat


In Sikkim the third highest peak known as Kanchenjunga is situated. The people of Sikkim worship the deity known as Khanchenzdunga. It is inhabited by the Indian Hindus and the tribal as well, since the Lepchas form the majority of the population; it is evident that the culture of the Lepchas would be of prime importance in the state of Sikkim. So, events and celebrations in Sikkim are mainly based on the traditions and civilization of the Lepchas.

Description of the Tendong Lho Rum Faat

It is believed firmly among the Lepchas that the Kanchenjunga Range has risen from the horns of a deity so that during the great flood, the Lepchas were saved. This was a mysterious event and since "The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious"(Albert Einstein), the Lepchas worship the Mysterious Lord, as Khanchenzdunga. In the Lepcha Mythology, Kanchenjunga is spelt as Kong- Lo- Chu.

They worship the peak as a God and on the third Moon Month every year; they celebrate a festival in reverence to the Lord Kanchenjunga. They make a model of the Mountain in facade of their homes and worship it. It is exclusively made of nine stones and the people dance and sing with mask to get the blessings of the Lord.

It is believed that the well wishes of the Lord are indispensable for keeping them wealthy and healthy. There was no permission to get to the top of the Mountain because it is believed that the Supreme resides in the topmost peak, and if anyone surpasses he will be displeased. So, the expeditions were much to the dislike of the Sikkimmese, who perceive it as a worthless attempt to intervene the place of God. A fiesta, grand and unique, is held every year to indicate the ascension of the Lord for the safeguard of the Lepchas. This carnival is known as the Tendong Lho Rum Faat.

Time for the celebration of the Tendong Lho Rum Faat

The festival called Tendong Lho Rum Faat is held on the 3rd Lunar Month each year at Sikkim.
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When i started my blog on Sikkim way back in 2007, i had it clear on my mind that this blog shall help people look out for knowledge on Sikkim. I always wanted a knowledge house about Sikkim, its past, present and future. I do not know over the years how much did i succeed but my determination to let other understand my Sikkim is always giving me a push. with regards Shital Pradhan (himalayanreview@gmail.com)

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