(Last Updated on : 17/01/2015)
Located in the lap of Kanchenjunga, the villages of Sikkim exhibit a wonderful scenic beauty and charming view. Sikkim is a small state in the north eastern India and a major portion of its total population lives in the villages, mostly located in the hilly regions. The villages of Sikkim have a rich tradition and cultural heritage and the people celebrate various fairs and festivals together. Their way of celebrating the festivals is distinct from other parts of the country and this unique style attracts many tourists from all over India every year.
People from many religious communities live in the villages of Sikkim. The predominant communities include the Lepchas, the Bhutias and the Nepalese. Buddhism is one of the major religions followed by the villagers in Sikkim. Mainly the Tibetans and Bhutias follow Buddhism. Another major religion is Hinduism that is mostly followed by the Nepalese. Apart from these two religions, the other major religions include Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, etc. The different communities, cultures, religions and customs of different hues nicely intermingle in the villages of Sikkim and constitute a uniform blend. People in the villages of Sikkim speak in different languages out of which, Sikkimese, Lepcha (Rong), Limbu (Yakthung Pan), Tibetan, Nepali, English, etc. are the most widely spoken ones. Nepali is the state language of Sikkim.
The villages of Sikkim have a good literacy rate. The villagers receive primary and secondary education from the government schools established in the villages of Sikkim. They can further opt for higher education in the colleges and universities, mostly located in the urban areas. Sikkim has one of the highest literacy rates among all states in India. The governmental authorities are establishing many more new educational institutions to further improve the educational scenario of the villages of Sikkim.
Like most villages in India, agriculture is the principal occupation of people living in the villages of Sikkim. Agriculture is the backbone of the state's economy and provides employment to a major portion of the population.
As most of the villages of Sikkim are located in the hilly region, the villagers follow their own method of cultivation that suits their needs. The villagers in Sikkim practise subsistence farming like rain fed agriculture, mixed farming, integration of agriculture and horticulture. The traditional crops like maize, millet, paddy, buckwheat, barley, mustard, potato, ginger, mandarin orange, large cardamom, etc. are cultivated in the villages of Sikkim throughout the year. Apart from these traditional crops, the horticultural crops like large cardamom, ginger, turmeric, oranges, apple, pear, off-season vegetables, the flowers like gladiolus, orchids, lilies, gerbera, carnation, anthurium, etc. are also grown in Sikkim.
Besides agriculture, various types of industries also provide employment to the people living in the villages of Sikkim. Tourism is one of the major sources of employment to the villagers. As the villages are endowed with natural beauty, many tourists visit them every year. The villagers work as tourist guides, provide accommodation facilities to the tourists or run different kinds of businesses in the tourist spots. Apart from tourism, the other sources of employment for the villagers in Sikkim include mining, power and liquor industry, aqua culture, livestock, etc. The villages of Sikkim are rich in minerals like dolomite, coal, quartzite, graphite, lime stone, sillimanite, talc, mineral water, thermal springs, etc. and many villagers work in the minerals industry to earn their livelihoods. The villages of Sikkim are also famous for various handicrafts products like woolen carpets and blankets, Thangkas, Choksee, sweaters and jackets, wall hangings and antics with Buddhist motifs, Tibetan and Sikkimese garments, etc.
Various fairs and festivals are celebrated by the residents in the villages of Sikkim, round the year. The people are warm, simple and friendly and they follow diverse customs and rituals. The village culture in Sikkim is a composite of all the three prominent communities like Lepchas, Bhutias and Nepalese and the culture is also related to Tibetan religious and aesthetic traditions. The festivals celebrated in the villages of Sikkim can be classified according to the religions like Hindu festivals, Buddhist festivals, etc. The major Hindu festivals are Dassain/Dussehra/Durga Puja, Tihar/Tyohar/Diwali, Maghe Sankranti, Holi, Ram Navami, Saraswati Puja, Janmashtami, etc. On the other hand, the villagers in Sikkim celebrate the Buddhist festivals like Losar, Bumchu, Saga Dawa, Lhabab Dhuechen, Drukpa Tsheshi, Phang Lhabsol, Losoong, Kalcharka Puja, Guru Rimpoche's Trungkar Tshechu, etc. with much pomp and cheerfulness. Apart from these, the other major festivals celebrated in the villages of Sikkim include Namsoong, Sakewa, Bhanu Jayanti, etc. The villagers perform the traditional dance forms like Kagyat dance, mask dances, etc. as part of celebrating the festivals.
Gifted with amazing natural beauty, the villages of Sikkim are counted amongst the most pictorial villages in India and many people from all over India visit the villages ever year. The rich cultural diversity and arts and crafts in the villages also attract many tourists. In this way, the villages of Sikkim play a major role in the tourism sector of the state.