Dassain/ Dussehra/ Durga Puja
This is one of the most important festivals of the Nepalese Hindus. The festival is usually observed for a fortnight and is held in the month of October. While the Hindus celebrate this festival by the name of Durga Puja, the Nepalese observe the days as Bijaya Dasami. The religious significance of this festival relates to the victory of the good over evil. It is universally believed that Goddess Durga slained Mahisasura in a fierce cruel fight. The second day is marked as the 'day of flowers' and the third day as 'Navami'. The tenth day of this grand festival is known as 'Vijay Dashami' and commemorates the victory of Lord Rama over the demon king Ravana.
Tihar/ Tyohar/ Diwali
The 'festival of lights' is one of the most important festivals of Sikkim and is also known as the Deepavali, which signifies 'a row of lights'. It is celebrated to mark the return of Lord Rama, his beloved Sita and his brother Laxman to their kingdom, Ayodhya after 14 years of exile. The locals lit up their houses and streets with lamps. The locals also conduct Lakshmi Puja during this time to appease the Goddess of Wealth. This much-awaited festival falls on the last two days of the dark half of the month of Kartik according to the Hindu calendar or the months of October/ November. In the state of Sikkim, the festival honors certain animals on successive days. The fifth day of this festival is known as Bhai Tika in which the brothers visit the homes of their sisters and apply vermilion tikas on their foreheads. During the festival of Tihar traditional carols Bailo or Deusi are also sung.
The other name by which this festival is popularly known is Makar Sankranti and is observed for consecutive three days. According to the beliefs of the Nepalese, this day marks the division of the winter and Summer solstice. The most interesting part of this festival is the Sikkemese milieu as people from all the remotest regions of the state come forward to patronize these fairs. The biggest fairs of Maghe Sankranti are seen at Jorethang and Saramsa.
The 'festival of colors' is one of the popular festivals of Sikkim. All night revelry, traditional songs and dances characterize the festival of Holi in the state. The spectacle of the human pyramid in successfully breaking the pot or 'matki' is indeed remarkable. The ethnic Bhutias and the Lepchas also put in equal enthusiasm in the festive celebrations thus reflecting the communal harmony of the state. This festival not only marks the victory of the good over the evil but also marks the advent of the season of spring. People greet each other with splashing colors and also visit their relatives during this special occasion.
This is one of the most auspicious festivals of Sikkim and is observed in the honor of Lord Rama. It usually falls on the ninth day or 'navami'. The grand celebrations commemorate the birth of the virtuous king Rama who is universally adored for his flourishing and righteous sovereignty. People from all over the state gather to celebrate this festival with much excitement and vigor.
This is one of the special festivals of Sikkim and is celebrated in the month of January. It is observed in the honor of Goddess Saraswati who is believed to be the 'Goddess of Knowledge' according to the Hindu mythology.
This festival is celebrated in Sikkim with as much pomp and show as that of the whole country. Dedicated completely to Lord Krishna, this festival celebrates his birth with much adoration. It is celebrated in Sikkim during the month of August/ September according to the English calendar. When the monsoon season is highest in most parts of India, the state of Sikkim indulges in the Janmashtami celebrations with much enthusiasm. The added attractions of this festival include raasleelas, kirtan, bhajan and various other local functions.
The Tibetan New Year or Losar is celebrated by the people of Sikkim with much fun and frolic. In fact this is one of the most important Buddhist festivals of Sikkim and usually falls in the month of February. The youth of the state set out on the streets on this special day to perform the Yak dance as a way of welcoming the New Year with occasional shouts of "Tashi Delek". The week long festivities are exerted by the Tibetan community with their brocades, traditional cultural performances and grand picnics.
This is one of the special Buddhist festivals of Sikkim and is celebrated at the monastery at Tashiding in the months of January/ February. During this auspicious occasion the pot containing the holy water is opened by the lamas of the monastery and the level of the water foretells the future of the approaching year. It is believed by the locals that if the water is to the brim, peace and prosperity will prevail in the coming year and if the level of the water is low or dry, it signifies famine.
This festival is popularly known as the Triple Blessed Festival and is regarded as the holiest of all the Buddhist festivals of Sikkim. This day holds much significance in the different phases of Gautama Buddha's life. The birth of Buddha, his achievement of enlightenment and his attainment of salvation or Nirvana, all took place on this day in different years of the Lord's life. This Three-Fold-Auspicious-Day usually falls on the full moon day of the 4th month of the Buddhist Lunar calendar.
This festival epitomizes in a significant manner the descent of Buddha from the heaven of the thirty-three Gods after visiting his mother. It is universally believed that Lord Buddha through his spiritual powers came to know about the whereabouts of his mother who did not live for a long time after his birth. After gaining the necessary information about his mother he ascended to Heaven where he delivered sermons to his mother and other celestial beings. During this period the disciples of the lord could not bear his long separation and longed to hear his preaching. Buddha finally relented and descended on earth along a triple ladder that was prepared especially for the occasion by Viswakarma.
This is one of the most auspicious festivals of Sikkim and is observed by the Buddhist monks to mark the event when Buddha first turned the Wheel of Dharma. It also celebrates Buddha's first preaching of the Four Noble Truths to his first five disciples in a deer park at Sarnath. This day usually falls on the fourth day or 'Teshi' of the six Tibetan month or Drukpa according to the Buddhist calendar or around the month of July or August every year. The major attraction of the festival is a Yak race.
This is one of the most unique festivals of Sikkim. The third Chogyal of the state, Chakdor Namgyal, made this grand festival popular all over. During this festival the snowy range of Mt. Khangchendzonga is worshipped for its centripetal powers. The signing of the treaty of blood brotherhood between the Lepchas and the Bhutias by the Khye Bumsa and Tetong Tek are also observed during this festival. On this special 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. Jesters called 'Atchars' play antics during the Chaams to alleviate the festive spirit of the viewers.
This festival is celebrated to mark the end of the harvest season and also the tenth month of the Tibetan year. The blessing of the local deity is seeked during this festival for better prospects of the crop in the upcoming year. Chaam dance and archery competitions are some of the added attractions of this festival. This festival is best observed in the rural parts of the state and men become Gods during the dances and put on attires with orphic symbols.
During this special puja, a mention of the two bodies of Buddhism, Hinayana and Mahayana are made with much veneration. While this festival goes on one of the paths Tantrayana is also emphasized in which it guides on how to attain Enlightenment and freedom from suffering. This festival involves many complex and esoteric rituals.
Guru Rimpoche's Trungkar Tshechu
This is one of the very important Buddhist festivals of Sikkim and on this special day the Sikkimese Buddhists pay homage to the master Guru Rimpoche, who first blessed Sikkim as a holy land. This revered master is believed to have firmly established Buddhism in Sikkim and also introduced his form of Tantric Buddhism to the Himalayas. The day not only commemorates his victory over the demons obstructing the growth of dharma in Tibet but also observes the beliefs that virtues accrued by recitation of mantras on this day have a two-fold significance.
This is one the most indigenous festivals of the Lepchas of Sikkim. This festival is observed to welcome the New Year, which begins from the first day of the month of Kurnyit Lavo and continues for seven days. The whole state of Sikkim celebrates this festival with much pomp and show.
This is one of the major festivals of Sikkim and is celebrated by the Rai community. This special day is observed with grand offerings of a wide assortment of sweetmeats and food grains to the local deity Kubera, also known to be the Goddess of food and wealth who is worshipped with much veneration.
This festival observes the birth anniversary of the Nepalese poet, Adhikavi Bhanu Bhakta who enjoys a demi-God status in all the regions of Sikkim. His achievement of translating the Hindu Holy book Ramayana into a Nepalese version is remarkable. Recitation of poetry, grand processions and seminars are also all part and parcel of this auspicious occasion. This special event makes for unrestrained merriment all over Sikkim.
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Festivals of Sikkim