◘ SAGA DAWA
◘ LHABAB DHUECHEN
◘ DRUKPA TSHESHI
◘ PHANG LHABSOL
◘ KALCHAKRA PUJA
◘ KAYGED DANCE
◘ DASAIN/ DUSSHERA
◘ TIHAR/ DIWALI
◘ SARASWATI PUJA
◘ MAGHE SAKRANTI
◘ VISHWA KARMA PUJA
◘ BHANU JAYANTI
◘ TEYONGSI SRIJUNGA SAWAN TOGNAM
◘ TAMU LOCHAR
◘ NYEMPA GUZOM
Saga Dawa: This is the Triple Blessed Festival and is considered
as the holiest of the holy Buddhist Festivals. On this day in
different years of his life, Lord Buddha took birth, achieved
Enlightenment and passed away attaining Nirvana, three important
events celebrated in the festival of Saga Dawa.
This Three-Fold-Auspicious-Day falls on the full moon day of the
4th month of Buddhist lunar calendar around the end of May and
early June. The highlight of the day’s observation in Gangtok is a
procession carrying the Holy Books of the teachings of the Buddha
from the Tsuk-La-Khang Monastery in the Palace around the town.
Lord Buddha was born in Lumbini in Nepal to King Sudhodhna and
Queen Maha Maya of the Sakya Clan around 560 BC. He was named
Sidhartha and his parents took all the pains to make his life
comfortable and keep him ensconced from the miseries of the world.
At the age of twenty nine, realization dawned upon Prince
Siddhartha that all the worldly pleasures were transient and
unreal and that the ultimate truth lay elsewhere. He renounced the
world and after wandering for many years in search of the truth
reached Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh (India), where he meditated under
the Bodhi trees and attained Enlightenment at the age of thirty
five. Buddha, the Enlightened One, left for his heavenly abode at
the age of eighty one at Kusinara on attaining Nirvana or
deliverance into bliss.
Lhabab Dhuechen: This festival symbolises the Descent of
Buddha from the heaven of the thirty three gods after visiting his
mother. Dhuechen means festivals, Lha means heaven and Bab means
Legends goes that Queen Maha Maya, the mother of Lord Buddha, did
not live long after his birth and took rebirth in Trayastrimsa or
the heaven of the thirty Gods. After attaining Enlightenment, Lord
Buddha through spiritual powers came to know about the whereabouts
of his mother and at the age of forty one ascended to the heavens
along with thousands of his followers. Lord Buddha stayed in
heaven for three months during which he delivered sermons to his
mother and other celestial beings. Lord Buddha had left behind on
earth one of his disciples, Maudgalyayana, as his representative.
This disciple and other devotees of the Lord could not bear the
long separation and longed to hear his preaching, Maugalyayana,
who possessed miraculous powers, was exhorted to go up to the
heaven to request the Lord to return back to the earth. The gods
were not willing to let Lord Buddha return back to earth but
Maugalyana suggested that as the earthly beings did not have the
powers to visit heaven, the celestial being could come to the
earth to attend his preaching. Lord Buddha finally relented and
descended to the earth at a place called Sankasya along a triple
ladder that was prepared especially for the occasion by Viswakarma,
the God of Machines.
Drukpa Tsheshi: This festival is observed by the Buddhists
to mark the event when Buddha first turned the Wheel of Dharma
(His first sermon to five disciples at Sarnath). This festival
celebrates Buddha's first preaching of the four Noble Truths to
his first five disciples in a deer park at Sarnath. The first is
the Noble Truth of suffering. The Second Noble Truth is the truth
of the origin of suffering Karma and Delusion and their causes.
The third Noble Truth is the cessation of the suffering or the
attainment of Nirvana. The fourth Noble Truth is the truth of the
Eight Fold Path leading to Nirvana. The day falls on the fourth
day (Teshi) of the sixth Tibetan month (Drukpa).
This festival is held on the 4th day(Tsheshi) of the 6th
month(Drukpa) of the Tibetan Calendar around July or August every
year.. In Gangtok, Drupka Tsheshi is marked by prayers at the Deer
Park and at a secluded place called Muguthang in extreme North
Sikkim. The festival is celebrated by holding a Yak race.
Phang Lhabsol: This festival is unique to Sikkim. It was
popularised by the third Chogyal of Sikkim, Chakdor Namgyal. In
this festival the snowy range of Khangchendzonga is worshipped for
its unifying powers. This festival also marks the signing of the
treaty of blood brotherhood between the Lepchas and Bhutias by
Khye Bumsa and Tetong Tek when the local deities were invoked to
witness the occasion.
In fact Phang means witness. On this day, the guardian deity is
portrayed by masked Lama dances as a fiery red-faced deity with a
crown of five skulls, riding a snow lion. To lighten the mood of
the spectators, jesters called 'Atchars' play antics during the
Chaams. The third Chogyal of Sikkim, Chakdor Namgyal is credited
for choreographing the Pang-Toed dance performed by monks on this
This festival is held on the 15th day of the 7th month around the
end of August.
Losoong: Losoong marks the end of the harvest season and
also the end of the tenth month of the Tibetan Year. Taking cue
from a good harvest and praying for even better prospects for the
next crop, the festival is marked by Chaam dancing's at the
monasteries at Palace (Tsu-La-Khang), Phodong and Rumtek. The
dances symbolize the exorcizing of the evil spirits of the year
and the welcoming of the good spirit of the new year. It is best
observed in rural Sikkim. Archery competitions and festivities
mark the event. Men become gods during the dances and don attires
with mystical symbols.
Losar: The Tibetan New Year is shared also by the Sikkimese
and marked with lot of gaiety and festivity. It falls normally in
the month of February.The Tibetan youth take to the streets on the
day performing the Yak dance and throwing sampa as a way of
greeting and welcoming the new year with shouts of "Tashi Delek".
The Tibetan community exerts itself in the more than week long
festivity with their brocades, jewelry, songs, dances and picnics.
Bumchu: Bum means "pot or vase" and chu means "water". This
festival is celebrated at the monastery at Tashiding in the month
of January or February. During the festival, the pot containing
the Holy water is opened by the lamas of the monastery. The level
of water in the pot foretells the future for the forthcoming year.
If the water is to the brim, it foretells a year in which peace
and prosperity will prevail. If the water is over the brim and is
spilling signifies a year with natural disaster and flood , it
prophesies bloodshed and disturbances. If the water lever is low
or almost dry it signifies famine. A part of the holy water is
distributed amongst the gathering of devotes and the pot is
replenished with river water and sealed at the end of the festival
to be opened only in the next Bumchu...more
Guru Rimpoche's Trungkar Tshechu: On this day, Sikkimese
Buddhist pay homage to the master who first blessed Sikkim as holy
land, Guru Rimpoche. The master is believed to have firmly
establish Buddhism in Sikkim and introduce his form of Tantric
Buddhism to the Himalayas after vanquishing ‘demons’ obstructing
the growth of dharma in Tibet. The day commemorates his victory
over these demons and the devout believe that virtues accrued by
recitation of mantras on this day are two-fold.
Kagyed Dance: It is performed on the 28th and 29th day of
the 10th month of the Tibetan Calendar, around December. This
dance is performed symbolizing the destruction of the evil forces
and hoping for peace and prosperity to flourish in every Sikkimese
home. The dancers of this is extremely
popular Chaam are always monks who are accompanied liturgical
music and chanting. The solemn nature of the dance is interspersed
with comic relief provided by the jesters. Kagyed dances enact
various themes from the Buddhist mythology and culminate with the
burning of effigies made of flour, wood and paper.
Kalchakra Puja: A mention of the two bodies of Buddhism,
Hinayana and Mahayana has been made at the beginning of this
chapter. To attain Nirvana or Enlightenment and freedom from
suffering one of the paths offered is Tantrayana which emphasizes
the Tantric or mystic aspect of Buddhism involving complex and
Dasain / Dusshera/ Durga Puja: One of the most important
festivals for the Nepalese Hindus, this fortnight long festival
usually falls in the month of October. While Hindus around the
world celebrate Durga Puja, the Nepalese observe the days as
Dasain or Bijaya Dashmi. This festival symbolizes the victory of
good over evil. It is widely believed that on this day the evil
Mahisura was slain by Goddess Durga who is the embodiment of
Goodness and Shakti, in a fierce duel fight.
On the first day barley seeds are sown in the soil and their
growth a few inches foretells a good harvest. The next important
day, a week later is Fulpati meaning the "day of flowers". Maha
Astami and Kala Ratri follow Fulpati. The next day is Navami. The
10th day of the festival is known as Vijay Dashmi and also marks
the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana. During this day people smear
their foreheads with coloured rice and the barley sprouts which
were sown on the first day of Dasain are picked and place over the
Tihar or Tyohar/ Diwali: This festival of lights also know
as the Deepavali means "a row of lights". This festival is
celebrated to mark the return of Lord Rama, his consort Sita and
brother Lakshmana, to their kingdom after 14 years of exile. To
celebrate their return, the people of Ayodhya are believed to have
lit up their houses and streets with lamps and the tradition is
followed till date. People also conduct Lakshmi Puja to please the
Goddess of Wealth.
It falls on the last two days of the dark half of Kartik
(October-November). For some it is a three-day festival.
In Sikkim the festival honours certain animals on successive days.
The first day known as "Kak(crow) Tihar" is dedicated to crows and
they are offered rice and some if caught are even garlanded. On
the second day, which is known as "Kukkur(dog) Tihar", dogs are
garlanded. On the third day the cows are honored with garlands and
their horns are painted in bright colors. It is the turn of the
bullocks on the fourth day. The fifth day is also known as Bhai
Tika in which brothers visit the homes of their sisters and they
apply tikas vermilion to each other foreheads. It is also an
occasion for exchanging gifts. During Tihar, traditional carols
called Bailo or Deusi are sung.
Saraswati Puja: This festival falls in the month of January
and honors the Hindu Goddess of knowledge "Saraswati". School
children place their study books in front of the statue and seek
blessings for doing well in their studies.
Janmastami: Also known as Krishnastami or Gokulastami is a
festival dedicated to Lord Sri Krishna and commemorates his birth.
This festival occurs on the eight day (Astami) of a lunar
fortnight hence the name (Krishna+astami). Krishnastami which
comes sometime in August is celebrated over two days. The first
day is Krishnastami or Gokulastami. The second day is called
Kalastami or more popularly Janmastami.
This festival associated with Lord Krishna’s birthday and is a
combination of religion and celebration together. Mathura, the
ancient north Indian town, is Krishna’s birthplace, and it is one
of the most sacred places in the entire country. People celebrate
this festival with fun, frolic, and merrymaking. The raasleelas,
bhajan, kirtan, and various local functions are the special
attractions of the place.
The festival of Janmashtami is celebrated during the month of
August or September depending on the Indian calendar. The
celebration of this festival is followed according to the Indian
calendar and hence the month in the English calendar varies every
year. This day also falls on the day of Shravan Poornima when the
monsoon season is at its high in most of the part of India.
Vishwa Karma Puja: This festival takes place on 17th
September every year and honour Vishwa Karma - the God of
Machines, statues of this deity are put up in temporary sheds
called pandals and worshipped especially by those who are involved
in handling machines like drivers and mechanics.
Maghe Sankranti : One of the important festivals of Hindus,
Maghe Sankranti known as Makar sankranti in other parts of India
is celebrated on the first day of the month of Magh (of the Vikram
Sambhat calendar) and is observed for three days. This day is
believed by the Nepalese as the day that marks the division of the
Winter and Summer solstice. It marks the beginning of the
lengthening of days. Bathing in rivers, especially in the
confluence of rivers, is prescribed for this day followed by
feasting. Huge fairs are organized along the river banks and
confluence of rivers. The prayers begin with dawn and the fairs
draw people from surrounding areas in thousands. It is an occasion
for villagers to gather, meet each other and make purchases. The
most colourful introduction to the Sikkimese milieu as people from
all communities patronize these fairs. Although just about every
district has its fair, the bigger ones are seen at Jorethang
(south Sikkim) and Saramsa (East Sikkim).
Holi: This Hindu festival of colors takes on a new meaning
in the colder climes of Sikkim. All night revelry, songs and
dances brings the business community (which is largely Hindu) to
the streets and also observed is the (Matki) competition in the
heart of the town. A good example of the communal harmony
prevalent in Sikkim as even the ethnic Bhutias and Lepchas can be
seen scrambling with their Hindu friends to take a crack at the
pot hung high in the air.
The festival of Holi symbolizes the victory of good over evil. It
also marks the advent of spring and people celebrate it joyously
with a splash of color. It is the most boisterous of all Hindu
festivals, observed all over India, especially the North. It
heralds the end of winter and the beginning of spring. People
throw colored water with pichkaari (a traditional device to spray
coloured water), gubbare (balloons filled with coloured water) and
gulal (colour powder) at each other and make merry. Singing and
dancing add to the gaiety of the occasion.
Ramnavami (Chaite Dasain): This festival is dedicated to
the memory of Lord Rama. It occurs on the ninth day (navami). The
festival commemorates the birth of Rama who is remembered for his
prosperous and righteous reign.
Namsoong: An Indigenous festival of Lepchas. It is celebrated
as a mark of welcoming the new year which begins from the first
day of first month (Kurnyit Lavo) of the year which continues for
seven days. It is celebrated all over Sikkim, Darjeeling district,
Ilam of Nepal and some parts of Bhutan...more
Sakewa: A Lepcha festival, the day is observed with
offerings of a variety of sweets and food grains to the deity of
food and wealth, Kubera.
Bhanu Jayanti: The Nepalese poet, Adhikavi Bhanu Bhakta,
enjoys a demi-God status in these areas and his birth anniversary
is marked with processions, poetry recitations, and seminars.
Bhanu Bhakta was the first Nepalese to translate the Hindu holy
book, Ramayana, into a Nepali version.
Tendong Lho-Rum-Faat: This Lepcha festival is observed by
the Lepchas to pay obeisance to the Tendong Hill which saved their
tribe from annihilation in the great flood.
Teyongsi Srijunga Sawan Tognam: