Costumes of Sikkim
reflect the social and cultural lifestyle of the major communities namely Lepchas
. All the three communities that are the Lepchas, Bhutias and Nepalis wear different costumes which further add to the variety that is found in the state. However, in the cities and urbanised sectors of the state, Marwaris, Biharis, Bengalis, South Indians and Punjabis, have settled to conduct business and serve in government services. The original inhabitants of Sikkim, the Lepchas, flaunt themselves in costumes, furnished with resplendent colours.
Male costume of Sikkim
The traditional costume of the Lepcha male is Thokro-Dum which involves a white pajama, stretching only to the calves, Yenthatse, a Lepcha shirt and Shambo, the cap. The texture of the male dress is rough, and long-lasting, suitable for the hardy toil in the field and forest. The traditional costume of Bhutia males comprises Kho, also known as Bakhu. It is a loose mantle which is tied at the neck on one side, and at the waist region with a silk or cotton belt. Added to this basic garment, a Bhutia man dons Jya Jya, a waist coat, the shirt, called, Yenthatse, shirt, Kera, a cloth-belt and Shambo, the cap. Nepali, another predominant group of Sikkim, has sustained the ethnicity of their own culture in their costume. The Nepalese men dress themselves in Shurval, a Churidar Pajama, topped off by a shirt, known as Daura. It is associated with Aaskot, wrist coat and their belt, called Patuki.
Female costume of Sikkim
The hereditary costume of Lepcha women is Dumvum or Dumdyam, a kind of smooth and cosy ankle-long dress, draped like a saree, Tago a loose-fitting comfortable blouse, Nyamrek, a belt and Taro, a cap. The magnificent ornaments exhibited by the Lepcha women, entail, earrings, called Namchok, Lyak a necklace, Gyar, a bracelet, and so on. The Bhutia community, hailing from the adjacent country of Tibet, has over years become rooted in the culture and social norms of Sikkim. A Bhutia woman`s general costume consists of Kho or Bakhu, Hanju, a silky full-sleeve loose blouse, Kushen, a jacket, a different pattern of the cap, Shambo and Shabchu, the shoe. Pangden, the stripy apron, the signifier of marital status is a symbol of married Bhutia females. The ornaments enhancing the appearance of the Bhutia women are Yencho, the earring, Khao, the necklace, Phiru, the pearl ornament, Diu, the Gold
bangle, and Joko, the ring. Bhutia people are obsessed with the pure form of gold, i.e., 24 carats, and have most of their ornaments crafted from pure gold.
The traditional costume of the Nepali women of Sikkim is endowed with fabulous hues. Pharia, the saree, gorgeous in vibrant shades, definitely augments the grace of the Nepali women. The dressing gets the right finish with a long loose blouse, is fastened from four sides and hence is called Chaubandi Cholo. Another variety in blouse is the Tharo Cholo. The upper portion of the body is daintily enveloped with a piece of cloth with wonderful prints. It is called Hembari.
The dance costume of the Nepali women is amazing. Pachauri, a colourful piece of cloth, suspended from the head to the waist, is utilised as adornment during dance performances. The ornaments that give a gaudy appearance to the Nepalese women are Sir-Bandi or tiara, i.e., a jewelled head-ornament, Kantha, a necklace, Naugeri, a pearl-necklace, Charanihari, again a necklace, Tilhari, a green bead with an elongated gold pendant, attired mainly by married women, Bulaki, a nose-ring
, Dungri, a nose-pin, Tik-mala, Chandrahar, Chepti son, an ear ring
, Gadwari, an ear ring, a silver Chura, a bracelet, and Kalli, a thick, substantial, silver anklet .
The other Marwari, Bihari, Bengali or Punjabi communities cater to their traditional costumes of salwar-kameez dupatta, saree, woolen textiles, and even to Western outfit, like jeans, T-shirts, trousers, anything which suits their taste and preferences.
Costumes of Sikkim, reflects in the resplendence of the dress and ornaments of the people, their love for beauty and inventive finesse.