Sikkim: Festivals

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Saga Dawa


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.

Drupka Teshi

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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 first Noble Truth 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. This day is celebrated on the fourth day (Teshi) of the sixth month (Drukpa) of the Tibetan calendar in the month of July or August every year. This festival is celebrated in Gangtok where the prayers are held at the Deer Park and at Muguthang in extreme North Sikkim and a Yak race is also held during the festival.

Phang Lhabsol

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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.


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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

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isopened 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.

Lhabab Dhuechen

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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.


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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 Tihaar festival is celebrated as the Festival of Lights in Sikkim, which corresponds to the Indian Festival of Lights. This festival is celebrated with the lighting of the lamps accompanied with traditional carolling called Deusi and Bhailo.

Tendong Lho Rum Faat

Tendong Lho Rum Faat festival is specific to the Lepchas and marks the celebration of the Tendong Hill. According to the legend, the hill had risen like a horn during a great flood to save the Lepchas.

Kagyed Dance

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.

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