Festivals In Sikkim
Saga Dawa is the triple blessed festival. This festival is considered as one of the holiest Buddhist festival for the Mahayana Buddhists. On this day the people visit monasteries and worship and offer butter lamps. Three important events connected to the life of Buddha are celebrated in this festival. These events are the Birth of Lord Buddha, Enlightenment taken by Lord Buddha and death of Lord Buddha or attaining Nirvana. This festival is celebrated on the full moon day of the 4th month of Buddhist lunar calendar around the end of May and early June. This festival is celebrated in Gangtok. On this day the monks carry the Holy Books of the Lord Buddha from the Tsuk-La-Khang monastery around the town in a large procession.
Drukpa Teshi festival is celebrated by the Buddhists. This festival is celebrated as on this day the Buddha preached his first sermon of four Noble Truths to his five disciples at a deer park in Sarnath.
The word Phang means witness. Phang Lhabsol is a unique festival of Sikkim which was popularized by the third king of Sikkim, Chakdor Namgyal. In this festival the Mount Kanchendzonga is worshipped for its unifying powers. In this festival the treaty of blood brotherhood was also signed between the Lepchas and Bhutias by Khye Bumsa and Tetong Tek and the local deities were also invited to witness the occasion. 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 monks also performs the Pang-Toed dance and spectacular Warrior Dance, with its intricate steps and leaps accompanied by the martial war-cries on this day. This festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the 7th month around the end of August.
Losar is the Tibetan New Year and is marked with lot of gaiety, festivity, feasting and merrymaking. It normally falls around the first week of February.
The Bumchu festival is celebrated at the Tashiding monastery in the West Sikkim in the month of January. The word ‘Bum’ means pot or vase and ‘Chu’ means water. During this festival, the pot that contains the Holy water is opened by the Lamas of the monastery. A part of the holy water is distributed amongst the devotees and the pot is replenished with water and sealed at the end of the festival which is opened only in the next Bumchu. The level of water in the pot foretells the future for the forthcoming year. If the water is up to the brim, it predicts that there would be bloodshed and disturbances. If the pot is almost dry it signifies famine and if it is half full, it predicts the year in which peace and prosperity will be there.
The Lhabab Dhuechen festival symbolises the Descent of Buddha from the heaven of the thirty three gods after visiting his mother. Dhuechen means festival, Lha means heaven and Bab means descent. According to the legends, the Queen Maha Maya, the mother of Lord Buddha, did not live long 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 heaven 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 retun back to the earth. The gods were not willing to let Lord Buddha return back to the earth but Maugalyayana suggested that as the earthly beings did not have the powers to visit heaven, the celestial beings 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 Vishwakarma, the God of Machines.
The Losoong festival is celebrated on the occasion of the end of the harvest season and the end of the tenth month of the Tibetan Year in the rural Sikkim. On this festival, the Chaam dances are performed at the Tsu-La-Khang monastery, Phodong monastery and Rumtek monastery. Archery competitions are also held amidst feasting and merry making. This dance symbolize the victory of the good spirits over the evil spirits of the year. During the dance the men become gods and attires with mystical symbols.
More or less occurring a few weeks before Losoong festival, the Dasain festival is the main festival of the Hindu Nepalese in Sikkim. This festival signifies the victory of good over evil. The elders of the family apply ‘tika’ on the young and bless them.
The Kagyed Dance is performed on the 28th and 29th day of the 10th month of the Tibetan Calendar, in the month of December. This dance symbolizes the destruction of the evil forces and prevailing of the peace and prosperity in Sikkim. The Chaam dancers are extremely popular. Chaams are the monks who are accompanied with the liturgical music and chanting. Some sort of the comic relief is also provided by the jesters with the dance. In this dance, various themes from the Buddhist mythology are enacted and it culminates with the burning of effigies made of flour, wood and paper.
The Kalchakra Puja
Tantrayana is one of the path by which one can attain Nirvana or Enlightenment and Freedom from Suffering. Tantrayana emphasizes on the Tantric or mystic aspect of Buddhism and involves complex and esoteric rituals. The Anutara Yoga Tantra or Supreme Tantra is one of the class of Tantrayana which combines male tantras and female tantras out of which Kalchakra is one of
Sakewa is one of the important festivals of Kirat Rai Community, which is celebrated annually in the month Baisak. The nine day long ceremony starts from the full moon day of Baisak, in which mother earth is worshipped. The Sakewa Puja is usually performed by the Nakchhong (priest) with the help of mongpas in a open place as community puja.
The worship of inner self, Mha Puja, is an important festival of New people. Mha puja is performed for purification, strengthening and understanding of oneself. It also exposes relationship between human and the nature and its cosmos
Namsoong Festival is celebrated by the Lepchas of Sikkim which also coincides with the Sonam Lossong festival of Bhutias. According to Dungkit Karchu (Lepcha Calendar), Namsoong festival begins from 1st day of the “Kurneet Lovo”, corresponding to the month of December/January every year. The festival continues for seven days.
Barahimizong is observed on the fifth day of Mangar Purnima. In Mangar language Barahi means God, Minaat or Mi means worship or prayer and ‘Zong’ means fort. The Barahimizong has been named affter the day of Mangar worship their forefathers or Kul DevtaasL Losar (Tibetan New Year) Accoding to the Tibetan lunar calendar the first day of the first month of Tibetan Calendar corresponding with English Calendar the month of February-March. They offer prayers and welcome The New Year
This is a greatest and most puja ceremony of f Sunwars which requires sacrificing 360 birds and animals. Chandee: This ceremony is performed in the month of Vaisak full day with pomp and grandeur.
Just after fortnight of celebration of Dassai, Tyohar is celebrated. The day marks the return of Hindu God Ram to his capital after vanquishing Ravana in a bloody battle at Lanka. The day is also observed as Laxmi Puja, the festival of lights. Bhaitika is a unique feature of Tyohar festival in which sisters prays for the betterment and long life of their brothers.
Like in other parts of the country, Maghey Sankranti is also observed in the month of January. It is celebrated on the first day of the month of Magh (January) continues for three days: It is one of the holy festivals of Hindus. Huge fairs are organised along the river banks and confluence of the rivers, Jorethang, Saramsa, Rorathang and Triveni are the important places where such fairs are held every year. The rituals are solemnised from dawn at the banks of the rivers, which is indeed a rare spectle to watch. Chaite Dassain/ Ram Nawami: This religious festival is usually observed in the month March. The day signifies the birth of Lord Rama.
This is a minor puja ceremony done twice a year by Natso with Syamboo, incense, Bospati to propitiate the Sunwar gods and spirits of the death ancestors. Chhengoo: During the puja Poibos invoke Sunwar deities and the spirits of the dead camping temporarily in a monastery after death.