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Folk Dances


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Folk dances and songs are an ingrained part of Sikkimese culture. Most of the dances relate to the beauty of the natural surroundings, some depict the harvest season and others are performed for good luck and prosperity. Many of the musical instruments that accompany the dances are unique to Sikkim. Some of the popular dances are described below.

 Nepali Folk Dance: Maruni
It is one of the oldest and most popular dances of the Nepales. Although this dance is associated with the festival of Tihar(Tyohar) or Diwali meaning "Festival of Light", because of its popularity it is performed even on occasions like marriages. Tihar is celebrated to mark the return of the Hindu god Rama from exile. During this festival Maruni dancers richly dressed in colourful costumes and resplendent with ornaments and nose rings ceiled "dungris" go on a house to house visit. The dancers are usually also accompanied by a clown called "Dhatu waray". Sometimes Maruni dances are performed to the accompanist of the nine instrument orchestra known as "Naumati Baja".

Nepali Folk Dance: Tamang Selo
Tamangs are a Nepali community and the "Tamang Selo" dance is performed to the rhythmic sound of the "Damphoo" musical instrument which the dancers carry in their hands. This dance is therefore also called the "Damphoo Dance". It is always full of fun and vigor and the brisk movement and rhythmic beat of the Dampoo depicts a style peculiar to the Tamangs. It is performed on occasions like marriage ceremony, childbirth and village fairs.

Nepali Folk Dance: Dhaan Naach
It is a folk dance performed by the Nepali community which projects cultural heritage of them. It has become since time immemorial. It is a ritualistic dance performed by young and old folks alike in their traditional costumes.

Nepali Folk Dance: Dau Ra Jane
This typical Nepali dance is performed during the happy occasion by the young girls in their traditional and colorful costumes.

Nepali Folk Dance: Sebru Naach
This dance depicts the life - style of the Sherpas, who are very fond of songs and dances. Their songs include praises for the colorful flora and fauna and the breath taking scenic beauty of the Himalayan ranges.

Gurung Folk Dance: Sorathi
This dance is an exclusive possession of the Gurungs. In the olden times it is said that one of the Gurung Kings had 1600 queens, but had no heir. In despair, he then started snatching valuable ornaments from his queens and sold them for his earthly pleasure. This dance depicts how the poor queens express their grievances.

Limboo or Subba Folk Dance: Chyabrung
It is Limboo's traditional musical instrument. The dancers hang the 'Chyap-brungs' around their necks and beat the drum with an open palm on one side and with a stick on the other side. This maneuvers produces two different sounds. In this fashion, groups of Limboos or Subba men dance executing delicate and complicated footwork son the hypnotic beats of the Chyap-Brung. It is song less dance, which is only rhythmic music. In this age-old fold dance the Limboo dancers depict graceful movements of wild animals and birds.

Lepcha Folk Dance: Zo-Mal-Lok
This is a popular folk dance of the Lepcha community depicting the sowing, reaping and harvesting of paddy. Farming folks, mostly relatives and friends of every family - the old and young folk alike - join hands in the process if singing and dancing - a merrymaking spree.

Lepcha Folk Dance: Chu Faat
This age-old folk dance of Lepchas is performed in honour of the Mount Khangchendzonga and its four associate peaks, Mt.Pandim, Mt. Kabru, Mt. Simbrum and Mt. Narshing. These five snowy peaks are believed to be the repository of five hidden treasures such as Salt, Medicine, Minerals, Sacred books and Food grains. Carrying butter lamps and green bamboo leaves, the dancers perform this ritualistic dance with the devotional songs. It is performed on the fifteenth day of the devotional songs. It is performed on the fifteenth day of the seventh month of the Northern Buddhist calendar every year.s

Lepcha Folk Dance: Kar Gnok Lok
Literally meaning "Dance of Swans" is a famous Lepcha folk dance which depicts the sojourn of a group of migratory swans who take a flight from the warm plains towards the cold Himalayan region in the month of February/March and from cold region to the warm plain in the month of October/November. The seasonal migratory flight of these swans guide the Lepchas top begins sowing and harvesting their crops.

Lepcha Folk Dance: Dharma Jo
This is a popular folk dance of Lepcha community depicting the harvesting season.

Lepcha Folk Dance: Mon Dryak Loks
It is a hunting dance who are supposed to be skilled hunters. They never kill the wild animals and birds for pleasure. Their hunting approach is highly ritualistic. This dance depicts Lepcha's hunting approach style carrying bows and arrows as their weapons.

Lepcha Folk Dance: Tendong Lho Faat
It is a Lepcha folklore, which is often retold to the new generation in lyrical poetry. This folklore corresponds to the divine occurrences as described in the Indian Vedas 'Matsya Purana' and in Bible as the 'Great Flood'.

Lepcha Folk Dance: Mun Hait Lok
It is a ritualistic Lepcha folk dance performed by both male and female to the accompaniment of devotional hymns. This dance depicts the' Mun' or the Witch doctor performing the age-old ritualistic dance.

Bhutia Folk Dance: Tashi Sabdo
This age-old dance depicts the custom of offering "Khadas" or scarves on auspicious occasions. Young boys and girls perform this dance carrying snow-white scarves in their hands, which is a symbol of purity, peace and prosperity.

Tibetan Dance: Yak Chaam
This dance is performed to honour the yak, an animal on which man is completely dependent upon for survival at high altitudes. This dance depicts the yak and projects the simple life style of the herdsman in the mountains.

Tibetan Dance: Singhi Chaam
The associate five peaks of the scared Mount Khangchendzonga looks like the legendary snow lion, which is considered an important cultural symbol of the State and is elaborately depicted in the Singhi Chaam or the Snow Lion Dance.

Sikkimese Folk Dance: Talachi
It is fabled that a king once lost his favorite horse. A search party was sent to look for the royal steed. As they proceed along the solitary path amidst hills and forests, the searchers sang lively songs and danced ending the monotony of their long sojourn.

Sikkimese Folk Dance: Lu Khangthamo
It is dedicated to this day - a day of thanks giving to all Gods and deities of the three worlds, Heaven, Earth and Hell. This age old folk dance is performed regularly by the young and old folk alike in their traditional customs and ornaments accompanied by the pleasing song and music on the occasion like warming and New Year celebrations. It is a Bhutia folk dance.

Sikkimese Folk Dance: Gha To Kito
It is a song cum dance which describes all about the treasures of Sikkim like Mount Khangchendzonga and the snow covered Himalayan ranges, rhododendrons and primulas, holy places, caves ad minerals. It is a Bhutia folk dance.

Sikkimese Folk Dance: Be Yu Mista
It is a popular Bhutia folk dance performed in praise of Sikkim by group of males and females with pleasing songs and prayers.

Sikkimese Folk Dance: Chi Rimu
It is a popular Bhutia folk dance performed in praise of Sikkim by young and old folks. This dance is a regular feature in every happy occasion when Bhutias express reverence to great teachers and sacred places of worship.

Sikkimese Folk Dance: Rechungma
It is typical Sikkimese dance performed during the happy occasions like childbirth, marriage and other social gatherings, offer paying their sincere thanks to the god for his blessings.

Sikkimese Folk Dance: Gnungmala Gnunghey
It is a typical Bhutia fold dance performed in praise, by both male and female to the accompaniment of devotional hymns and song of the multi purpose majestic bamboos, describing its use.

Sikkimese Folk Dance: Tashi Zaldha
It is a dance depicting the Bhutia custom of offering scarves, performed by boys and girls.

Mask Dance: Enchey Chaam
Sikkim's famous mask dances provide a spectacle, perhaps nowhere to be experienced in the entire world. Performed by lamas in the 'Gompa' courtyard to celebrate religious festivals, dances demonstrate perfect footwork and grace. Costumed lamas with gaily painted masks, ceremonial swords and sparkling jewels leap and swing to the rhythm of resounding drums, trumpeting of horns and chanting of monks. It is the annual puja celebrated with religious masked dances on the 18th and 19th days of the 11th month of the Tibetan Buddhist Calendar corresponding to the month of December - January.

Mask Dance: Rumtek Chaam
It is the most important chaam (religious masked dance) performed on the 10th day of the 5th month of the Tibetan calendar, corresponding to the month of June. It presents eight manifestations of the Guru Rimpoche. This is highly colorful and spectacular and draws many pilgrim and visitors.

Mask Dance: Gouthor(Winter) Chaam
It is performed on the month of February - 2 days prior to Losar.

Mask Dance: 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 are 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.

The other popular dances are
Bhutia Talachi
Sherpa Sebru Naach
Guning Sorathi
Bhutia Lu-Khang-Thamo
Bhutia Gha-to-Kito
Bhutia Be-yul-mista
Bhutia Chi-Rimu.

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