Sikkim offers the magical feel of a Himalayan fairytale land, where the intermingling of various communities though having adopted the ever changing scenario of external influences have retained their ethnic identities while following the religion that they originally belong to. The festivals in Sikkim are either related to their ethnic culture or the religions that they presently follow. Following are the major festivals of Sikkim.
Panglhabsol (End of August)
An important feature of the celebration is the spectacular Warrior Dance with intricate steps and leaps accompanied by martial war–cries. This festival marks the worship of the guardian deity Mount Khangchendzonga. The guardian deity is portrayed by a masked lama dancer as a fiery red–faced deity wearing a crown of five skulls and riding a snow lion.
Bhum–Chu (January and February)
Held at the Tashiding Monastery in West Sikkim. The abbot of the monastery unveils a pot of holy water. The level of water in the pot signifies the condition of the State for the coming year. Bhum means “Pot/ Vase” while Chu means “Water”. Over flow or too little water signifies a disturbed year while if the water is full then it means peace and prosperity. A part of the holy water is distributed amongs the participants and then the pot is replenished with more water from river and sealed at the end of festival to be opened again in next Bhum–Chu festival
Signifies the descent of Lord Buddha from heaven Lha means “Heaven” while Bab means “Descent”.
Saga Dawa (May and June)
Marks the life history of Lord Buddha explaining various stages of his life – his birth, his enlightment and his attainment to nirvana.
Tendong Lho–Rum Faat (August)
Specific to Lecpha tribes, this festival is celebrated at Tendong Hill remembering the legend at which the Lepcha tribes were saved by this hill from the deluge when the whole world was flooded– similar to Noah’s ark in Bible. Legend goes on to say that this hill had risen like a horn during the great flood to same the Lepcha tribes.
Drukpa Tseshi (August)
This festival is celebrated in the memory of first teaching sermon of Lord Buddha where he had preached the “Noble Truth” to his first disciples at Sarnath. The prayers are held at Gangtok and at Muguthang – North Sikkim followed by Yak race.
(December/ January): Held at Rumtek Monastery, Lingdum Monastery and Phodong Monastery on the 28th and 29th Day of the eleventh month of the Lunar Calendar.
Loosoong (December/ January)
This Bhutia festival marks the end of harvest season Religious dances symbolishes the victory of good over evil which are performed at Tsug Lakhang Monastery, Phodong Monastery and Rumtek Monastery. Archery competitions are held amidst feasting and merry making.
It marks a beginning of Tibetan New Year. Celebrated with feasting and merrymaking.
Dasain (October): Dasain is the main festival of Hindu Nepalese in Sikkim. It signifies the victory of good over evil. The elders of the family apply “Tika” on the fore head of the youngsters and bless them.
Tihaar (October or November)
Festival of lights and merrymaking as celebrated throughout India by the Hindus. In Sikkim it is celebrated by Hindu Nepalese and Indian plainsmen who have settled permanently.
Maghe Sankranti (Mid–January)
Celebrated by Nepalese, where it is marked by taking the early morning bath. Merry making and feasting mainly with delicacies like sweet potato and underground tubers.
Festivals of Christians all over the world. In Sikkim this festival is greatly celebrated with pomp and merrymaking. It is great to see the streets crowded by youngsters during night – time singing “Carols”. And visiting the houses of fellow Christians. It signifies the equality of both poor and rich honestly exemplifying by being the true follower of Christ. The soft hymns with melodious music are greatly influenced by the backdrop of cold and chilly wintry nights. These days it is common to see many tourists from all over India and aboard as–well to experience the Christmas eve at the Hilly Kingdom and get the blessed gifts from Santa Claus. Every Christian in Sikkim decorates their houses and erects the Christmas tree by selecting the best possible branch of pine trees.