Festivals of Darjeeling and Sikkim
Festivals of Darjeeling and Sikkim
It would help if you visited Darjeeling and Sikkim to witness the riot of the kaleidoscope of colours. Sikkim and Darjeeling are tucked away in the North-Eastern corridor of India in the shadows of the Himalayas. Sikkim is the second smallest state in India, while Darjeeling is part of West Bengal. The festivals here match in grandeur with all of India.
An array of festivals is celebrated annually with rich, diverse cultures and traditions. However, you must plan a trip first to experience the celestial and colourful festivals. Here are some of the most celebrated festivals.
1. Saga Dawa:
26th May 2021
Saga Dawa is considered one of the most religious festivals in Sikkim and Darjeeling amongst the Mahayana Buddhists. The day begins with locals visiting monasteries and offering butter lamps as a token of their devotion.
This festival celebrates the three occasions associated with the life of Shakyamuni Buddha. First, it is the birth, enlightenment, and achievement of Nirvana by Lord Buddha. Second, this celebration takes place on the full moon day of the fourth month of the Tibetan calendar, around the end of May and early June.
2. Drukpa Teshi:
14th July 2021
Drukpa Tseshi is celebrated with full zeal and splendour as this was the day Buddha gave his first sermon of four Noble Truths to his initial five devotees at a deer park in Sarnath. This day is celebrated on the fourth day (Teshi) of the Tibetan calendar’s 6th month (Drukpa), usually during July or August.
It is one of the widely celebrated festivals in Gangtok, with mass prayers at Deer Park and Muguthang in North Sikkim. The day is then concluded with a Yak race, which highlights the celebration at Muguthang.
3. Pang Lhabsol:
2nd September 2021
Pang Lhasbsol is unique to Sikkim. It was made famous by Chakdor Namgyal, the third king of Sikkim. The festival involves worshipping Mount Kanchenjunga. It also marks the age-old blood brotherhood treaty signed between the Lepchas and Bhutias by KhyeBumsa, TetongTek, and the local gods/deities who witnessed the event.
A masked monk depicts the guardian deity during this festival. While riding a snow lion, he is dressed in a bright red costume and a mask with a crown of five skulls. “Atchars” or jesters play pranks and antics on the spectators to lighten up the otherwise solemn ceremony. This occasion is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, around the end of August.
27th February 2021
The festival of Bumchu is observed in West Sikkim at the Tashiding Monastery in January. ‘Bum’ means ‘pot or vase,’ and ‘Chu’ means ‘water.’ The Lamas of the religious community open the pot that contains the Holy Water during the festival.
Some of the holy water is distributed amongst the devotees gathered for the festival, and the pot is refilled with water and sealed to be utilized the following year. The water level in the container predicts the outcome of the year. If the water overflows, it means the coming year will be disturbing, and on the off chance the pot is dry, it implies a drought and starvation.
5. Kagyat Dance:
24th & 25th December 2021
Kagyat Dance is performed every 28th and 29th day of the tenth month of the Tibetan calendar. The monks in the Tsuklakhang Monastery usually perform this dance. The custom move finishes with the burning of effigies made of flour, wood, and paper, which symbolize the destruction of the evil powers of hatred.
Before beginning this remarkable Buddhist religious festival, the monks usually offered Prayer at the beginning of this Buddhist festival. Then, they get together and pray for the prosperity of their community through the medium of dance.
6. Rumtek Chaam:
14th December 2021
Rumtek Monastery is renowned for its ‘Chaam’ – the traditional lama dance and the adapted ‘opera’ performed by the laypeople who live in the monastery’s vicinity. The vital ‘Chaam’ of Rumtek is completed two days before the Tibetan New Year and is shown on the tenth day of the fifth month of the Tibetan calendar.
It is also known as ‘Tse Chu Chaam,’ these Chaams represent the eight different manifestations of Guru Padmasambhava, an Indian sage who spread Buddhism’s teachings in Tibet.
16th December 2021
The Sikkimese New Year is known as ‘Sonam Losar’ (the Farmer’s New Year). It is the event wherein the farmers’ cheer and celebrates their harvest. Losoong is celebrated among relatives and companions; the spirit of this delightful festival in Sikkim brings all people together for a common reason.
Lama dances are held in almost all leading monasteries two days after Losoong. These dances are believed to expel the previous year’s wicked spirits and welcome the high spirits for the coming year.
8. Enchey Chaam:
No dates available for 2021, probably due to COVID 19
The annual ‘Chaam’- a traditional dance performed by the Lamas of the Enchey religious community, is conducted each year on the eighteenth and nineteenth days of the Tibetan calendar’s eleventh month, usually in December.
Like in all the Chaams in different parts of Sikkim, this Buddhist religious festival in Sikkim watches the Lamas in their fabulous outfits and perform the divine dance with each other. However, in Enchey, the Drag-dMarChaam of Padmasambhava is believed to be in his most wrathful form!
12th – 14th February 2021
Loshar is the Tibetan New Year and is celebrated by welcoming neighbours, companions, and relatives to social events. A few days preceding Losar is the Guthor Chaam, where beautiful lama dances are held in the Pemayangtse and Rumtek Monasteries to welcome the Tibetan New Year.
The Hindus of Nepalese origin celebrate various Hindu festivals like in Nepal.