Festivals of Sikkim
There are numerous festivals celebrated in Sikkim through out the year. As people of Sikkim mostly follow Buddhism, the festivals celebrated here are associated to the Buddhist festivals. Mostly the festivals are celebrated in the Gompas or Monasteries of Sikkim, where people gather in large number to commemorate the occasion.
Saga Dawa is held on the full moon of the 4th month of the Buddhist calendar in the end of May or early June. This is a triple blessed festival where three important events occurred in the life of Lord Buddha – his birth, enlightenment and the final Parinirvana. Prayers are held in all monasteries. A procession carries the holy books of the teachings of Buddha from the Tsuglakhang monastery making around of Gangtok town.
Lhabab Duchen commemorates the Lord Buddha's descent from heaven after teaching his deceased mother, Mahamaya. Lhabab Duchen occurs on the 22nd day of the ninth Buddhist month in Novemeber.
Popularised by the third Chogyal of Sikkim, Chagdor Namgyal, is a prayer festival which commemorates the consecration of Mt. Khangchendzonga as the guardian deity of Sikkim.
This festival also marks the signing of the treaty of brotherhood between the Lepchas and Bhutias by the Bhutia chief, Kye Bhumsa and Lepcha Patriarch Thekong Tek.
On this day, masked Lama Dances portray the guardian deity as a fiery red-faced deity with a crown of the five skulls, riding a snow-lion. It is held on the 15th day of the seventh Buddhist month, falling in the month of August.
This festival falls on the fourth day of the sixth Tibetan month, in June-July, celebrates Buddha's first preaching of the four "Noble Truths" to his first five disciples in deer park at Sarnath. At Gangtok, it is marked by prayers at the Deer Park and at a secluded place called "Muguthang" in extreme north Sikkim, followed by Yak race.
Guru Rinpoche’s Trungkar Tsechu marks Guru Padma Sambhava’s birth anniversary and falls on the tenth day of the sixth Buddhist month. Holy Buddhist texts are recited in all monasteries.
Bumchu, an age old festival of Sikkim is celebrated at Tashiding Monastery on the full moon of the first Buddhist month falling February-March. During this festival, the lamas of the monastery open the scared urn containing the holy water. The level of water in the pot foretells the future of the country. If the water is to the brim, it prophesizes bloodshed and disturbances; if the pot is almost dry it symbolises famine and if it is half full, it foretells a year of peace and prosperity.
A part of the holy water is distributed amongst the participants and then the pot is replenished with Rathong water and sealed at the end of the festival to be opened only in the next Bumchu.
Losoong is a Bhutia festival, which marks the end of the harvest season. It also marks the beginning of Bhutia New Year. Mask dance at Phodong, Rumtek, Ralang and Enchey and archery competitions mark the occasion.
The Lepchas celebrate this festival as Nambun or Namsoong.
Losar is the Tibetan New Year and falls in the month of February. It is marked with lot of gaiety and festivities.
Tendong Lho Rum Faat
Specific to the Lepchas, this festival marks the celebration of the Tendong hill. According to legend, the hill had risen like a horn during a great flood to save the Lepchas.
Corresponding to the Indian festival of Diwali, Tihaar is also celebrated as the festival of lights in Sikkim with the lighting of lamps accompanied with traditional caroling called "Deusi" and "Bhailo".
Dasain is the main festival of the Hindu Nepalese in Sikkim. It signifies the victory of good over evil. The elders of the family smear 'Tika' on the foreheads of the youngsters and bless them.
This is one of the important festivals of the Nepali community. It is held annually on the 13th and 14th January. It is marked by holding fairs at the confluence of rivers and taking a ritual dip in the river. Grand fairs are held at Jorethang, Saramsa and Singtam
Teyongsi Sirijonga Tongnam
This is a Limboo festival, marking the birth anniversary of Sirijonga or Teyongsi Sirijonga Tongnam, the incarnate of King Sirijonga Hang. It falls in mid December.
This festival is observed by the Rai community to pay homage to Mother earth. It falls in the month of May. The Sakewa rituals are performed by the Mangpas (priest).