(Last Updated on : 01/03/2014)
Communities, cultures, religions and customs of different hues intermingle freely in Sikkim to constitute a homogeneous blend. Hindu temples coexist with Buddhist monasteries. Few Christian churches are also present in this place along with Muslim mosques and Sikh Gurdwaras. Although the Buddhists with monasteries all over the state are the most conspicuous religious group. They are in fact a minority constituting only 28% of the population. The majorities that constitute 68% profess Hinduism. The predominant communities can be named as the Lepchas, Bhutias and the Nepalis. In urban areas many plainsmen such as Marwaris, Biharis, Bengalis, South Indians, Punjabis, etc. have also settled and they are mostly engaged in business and government service. Because of development and construction activities in the state various people work and the working class consists of a small part of the population of migrant laborers from the plains and from Nepal plumbers, masons and carpenters from Orissa, Bihar and West Bengal and Sherpas who are hired by the army to maintain the roads at high altitudes. A few thousand Tibetan Refugees are there who settled well in Sikkim.
Cultural and economic forces are reshaping the way of life of the Sikkimese. The young boys and girls sporting the latest fashions probably picked up from a new Hindi movie or BBC's Clothes Show gaily tromp up and down. The cable TV is definitely attempting to remold the cultural landscape of Sikkim. But in spite of such powerful external influences, Sikkimese have proved to be resilient accepting the benefits of progress while retaining their ethnic identity.
In Sikkim, women are not confined to home and the hearth. In the vegetable market a lady puffing away at her bidi i.e. local made cigarette can be seen. In the small local restaurant, women sales girl can be seen. At a busy traffic intersection a smartly turned out woman police constable is busy regulating the traffic while another is issuing a ticket to an errant woman driver. On construction sites, women work side by side with men, carrying material in wicker baskets and pulverizing stones. Women, even those belonging to the conservative Marwari community run many of the shops in town. In the Government Sector, more than fifteen percent of the employees are women.
: The Lepcha population is concentrated in the central part of Sikkim. This is the area that encompasses the confluence of Lachen and Lachung rivers and Dickchu. The terrain here is rugged and Lepcha dwellings are perched precariously on the steep hillsides. No wonder the word Lepcha means the Ravine folk. They mostly live on agriculture of paddy, cardamom and oranges.
: The Bhutias are evenly distributed throughout the state of Sikkim. In Northern Sikkim, where they are the major inhabitants, known as the Lachenpas and Lachungpas
: At the present time the Nepalis constitute more than 80 percent of the total population of Sikkim. A major sub-cultural stock of the Nepalis are the Kiratis. The Kiratis include Limbus, Rais, Magars, Gurungs, Tamangs and some others as well