Monday, September 15, 2008

Sikkim needs a study forum

Shital Pradhan, Singtam

Legends are part of developmental evolution of human race and cannot be single out simply being an imaginary one. These legends had been the bases of many future findings that were once a tales woven in narration of reality and folklore. We belong to the land of Lepchas where they are termed as a primitive tribe. But yet we are not able to confront ourselves from the rear fact that we lack evidences to speak out our minds. We believe in age old ethnicity and words of scholars but the real truth remains the fact that our future generations needs to be explained the mystic forces of time immemorial that build up our Sikkim, from the days of so called earliest life in a Lepcha tribe to the three century old Namgyal Dynasty and further towards the making of the Sikkim that we live in today. From a small Himalayan Kingdom to a 22nd state in the mighty Indian Union, the stamp sized state of Sikkim had witness many major transformations. Much like folklore the history of early Sikkim is divided between the facts and the uncertainty. Let’s speak that Bhutias and Nepalese followed to this land of Sikkim where the Lepcha tribe had already been dwelling. Later on the people from different states of India enter our land and made it their homes. But in course of time this fact could be hindered if proper documentation is not under done and who knows years to come our great- great grand children might have an academic lesson that it was the tribal people from the adjoining states of India that set up the Himalayan land of Sikkim that was followed by the Lepchas, Bhutias and Nepalese from other part of the neighbouring countries. Sikkim is mysterious, very rich in legends and yet we have never presented ourselves in the scientific ways. We never tried to collect the exact data of those numerous folklore that had been part of every man’s life since ages.

Defining the exact time epoch of certain incidents including those of pottery pieces found around the fields of Daramdin and stories of the Great Flood at Mt. Tendong could possibly put the state of Sikkim on the world map in a different dimension. Once going through an article published on Sonam Tshering Lepcha, a man behind the famous Lepcha museum in Kalimpong in a local newspaper from Gangtok it was mention about the people collecting intact pots that was quite different from those collected by Sonam Lepcha himself unearthed from the sites of the legendary ladder story belonged to certain communities graveyard. Sounds interesting, yet there is less possibility that the climate of Sikkim suits any type of mud that is used in making pottery and it is really a matter of discovery how did those people established the tower of pots! Myths of man-like animal Yeti heard on numerous accounts along the Himalayan range of North Sikkim could be the missing link between the early man and us. We can help out understand the evolution of mankind, its society and its ways of living. The foot prints found at Chungthang have developed a sort of controversy over the two scholarly men of the bygone centuries. There are mixed believers that those foot impression belong to either Guru Rimpoche or Guru Nanak! These are just few outlines from the strings of legend that are associated with our Sikkim.

With every passing days those folklore are being endangered and surely we need to preserve it who knows at the end we might never understand was these unsolved mysterious the very treasures that our ancestor had been talking about over the years. Inorder to organize ourselves and understand those numerous unsolved mysterious and preserve the ancient culture heritage of the state there is a need of a forum in Sikkim, more or less a Sikkim Study Forum.

Without denying, the fact remains that the major percentage of younger generations in Sikkim lacks knowledge of its prime history. The mere collection of names as in TNSSS, TNA, PNGSSS, STNM are the only things they know about the glorious days of Sikkim as a small Himalayan kingdom. The other reason of such ignorance could be the fact that the lessons on Sikkim history are never part of academic curriculars in higher studies. Many states in India have their self examination board set up, are we not prepared for Sikkim State Board? It is very strange to find out most of the popular books available about Sikkim are written by non-local writers. This presently shows lack of under mounted interest among local scholars raring to find the true picture of our state. Most of the books written about the early Sikkim is referred from 1884 published H.H.Rishley’s “Gazetteer of Sikhim”, say it a mother of all Sikkim based book. The book is no doubt very neatly written and very informative but can we put it as the final output of our history!

Very few people know that there had been two pre-historic explorations in Sikkim in past; one in 1980 with major findings of well-polished Neolithic stone tools around Dzongu area and the other one off lately in 2003 that had the state stunned when similar Neolithic tools unearthed from Sajyong near Rumtek dated back to 8000 BC. It developed a curiosity whether the land of Sikkim was a dwelling place of early men much against the period we were supposed too. Another out of the ordinary finding from Sajyong was a fossilized antelope horn that was 1,50,000 years old. But after that what happened about those tools is little known. Those tools were the valued assets of Government of Sikkim and it should be brought back to where it belongs. How often we come across in news that such tools are dug out. But are we really concerned about it?

CM’s European tour couple of year back had some aspiring expectation about certain historical documents signed by the Chogyals of Sikkim lying in museums of England most specifically. In near future it is expected those legendary papers that are more or less a matter of myth among the people of Sikkim will return to its native land but where will it be kept ? Sikkim needs a museum and long discussion on converting the heritage White Hall into a museum is still a talking point. Individual people in few places have come up with personal self made museums but when shall the state have its own museum.

The answers to all the interrelated queries are centralled around the formation of Sikkim Study Forum. This Forum could be the platform that might provide opportunity to any scholars interested in performing research on different subjects of Sikkim as well as preserve the momentous legacy of this mystic land. Finally are we not interested to know what happened to those names of Suhim, Sukhim and Sikhim?