Festivals of Sikkim are celebrated by people from different groups. The unity among the people of Sikkim is an inspiring one. Festival of one community is equally and enthusiastically celebrated by the people of another community. The Government of Sikkim do have their Official Website with all the details as well.
Dassain or Durga Puja
The primary celebration for Sikkim’s Hindu Nepalese is this one. This is one of the prominent Festivals of Sikkim. September through October are the months when it happens. In other regions of the nation, it is observed similarly to Dushera. From the first (Prathama) through the ninth day, Goddess Durga is worshiped (Navmi).
Every family’s elders bless the children and apply “tika” to them on the tenth day. The elders also provide gifts in kind or cash. The statue of Goddess Durga is transported in a vibrant procession the very following day in preparation for its immersion in a lake or river. Dassain comes to an end with this.
Tihar or Deepawali
It coincides with Diwali, often known as the festival of lights. It is observed precisely a fortnight following Dasain. The mythology claims that on this specific day, clay lamps were lit all around to commemorate Lord Ram’s return to Ayodhya after fourteen years in exile. All Hindus clean, whitewash, and paint their homes and the neighborhood before the celebration. Additionally, marigold flowers and bunting are used to embellish them. Candles and earthen lamps are lighted, and there is also electrical adornment. At night, they worship Goddess Lakshmi, who is also the Goddess of riches. Tikar is not just the festivals of Sikkim celebrated in Sikkim but all over the nation and world wide.
Five days are devoted to the celebration. Tradition dictates that a certain entity or living thing be worshiped every day. Crows are fed home-made treats on the first day, or Kag Tihaar. The dogs are honored on the second day, Kukoor Tihaar. They are decorated and fed with special rice and meat dishes. Cows are honored, garlanded, and served a specially prepared meal on the third day, or Gai Tihaar. Oxen are worshipped and fed on the fourth day, which is referred to as Gom Tihaar.
The females execute Bhai Tika on the final day by applying colored rice mixture called a “Tika” to their brothers’ foreheads. At night, a group of females gathers to sing “Bhailo,” or traditional carols. A bunch of lads and men begin singing “Deusi” the following morning. For a few days, the singing and dance groups visit various homes.
At Tashiding Monastery, this event is observed on the fifteenth day of the first Tibetan month. One of the most sacred celebrations in Sikkim is the opening of the vessel holding the holy water, or bumchu. The amount of water in this vessel is thought to be a predictor of the upcoming year’s fortunes.
Every year, the vessel is opened to check the water level within; as a result, if the water level is greater or lower, it denotes bad luck, such as sickness, tragedies, and droughts. Before the vase is removed from the case, a particular recitation is performed and the vase’s seal is examined.
The monks open the vessel, take seven cups of water from it, mix it with water from Rathong Chu, and then distribute it to the followers. Seven glasses of water are gathered from Rathong Chu and placed in the vase before being sealed till the following year.
Devotees attend this event from all across Sikkim as well as from nearby nations like Bhutan, Nepal, etc.
The Tibetan New Year, Losar, which occurs in February, is also celebrated by inviting friends and family to get-togethers. This is one indigenous Festivals of Sikkim coming from Bhutia community.
The Gutor Chaam, which portrays the conflict between good and evil and the ritualized extermination of evil, is performed in the Rumtek monastery two days before Losar. The Grand celebration of Losar is held at Rumtek Monastery Annually.
The Sikkimese New Year is known as Losoong, while the Lepchas also name it Namsoong. Farmers typically rejoice and enjoy their harvest at this time. There is a festive atmosphere around, despite the fact that the event is only observed discreetly among close friends and family. This event, which honors the triumph of good over evil, features the Black Hat dance, which is preceded by “chaams” at several monasteries two days before Losoong.
Every year, both Lepchas and Bhutias celebrate the festival of Lossong with the customary merriment and color in the month of December. A few traditional sports activities are also organized, like archery and lengthy competitions in merriment.
A significant secular Nepalese holiday is Maghe Sankranti, which falls on the first day of the tenth month of the Bikram Sambat calendar and marks the beginning of warmer weather. The three-day event, which is celebrated in other areas of India as Makker Sakranti, normally takes place in mid-January. Every year, the fourteenth of January falls on that day. When the Tista and Rangit rivers merge, a bathing celebration known as Makkar is celebrated.
Numerous locations along the river banks and at the confluence of rivers host massive fairs and melas on this day. The Jorethang Maghe Mela, which takes place in Jorethang in south Sikkim, is the largest and most anticipated.
It has now grown into a big festival, attracting large crowds of both residents and foreigners. The mela is supposed to have grown from an agricultural fair held for the first time in Jorethang in 1955. Hundreds of stalls selling and displaying various things are set up for the large number of visitors that attend the fair.
This event is unique to Sikkim and honors Mount Khangchendzonga’s consecration as Sikkim’s guardian god. It is thought that the mountain god was instrumental in bringing Buddhism to this erstwhile kingdom. According to a handwritten biography by Lhatsun Chenpo, Sikkim’s leading Buddhist propagator, celestial visions delivered by the mountain deity guided him to Demajong (the hidden valley of rice, as Sikkim is referred to by the Bhutias).
The mountain god is still invoked and worshipped to at Pang Lhabsol to continue safeguarding Sikkim. The celebration is held on the 15th day of the 7th Tibetan month, which corresponds to late August/early September. The festival’s chaams are one-of-a-kind, and the magnificent Pangtoed or warrior dance was created by the third Chogyal Chador Namgyal, who is supposed to have come to him in a vision.
The celebration also commemorates the blood brotherhood formed between the Lepchas and the Bhutias in the 15th century in Kabi.
Saga Dawa, or the Triple Blessed Festival, is an auspicious month for Sikkimese Buddhists, with prayers conducted in various monasteries throughout the month. The biggest celebration takes place on the full moon of the fourth month of the Tibetan calendar [known as Buddha Purnima in the rest of India].
On this day, it is thought, the Buddha was born, obtained Enlightenment, and entered Nirvana. In Gangtok and other towns and villages around Sikkim, a colorful procession of monks playing musical instruments and worshippers carrying religious books, photographs, and sculptures of Lord Buddha is held. People assemble in the streets to get blessings by touching their heads with the Holy Scriptures.
All Rais celebrate Sakewa with tremendous passion. One of the state’s oldest holidays, it is celebrated as a large harvest celebration with nature worship. It is also known as Bhoomi puja, or the ceremonial of land worship. Kirat Rais are essentially nature worshipers, and prayers are made to the natural supreme force, the creator of the universe, during the festival for the peace, protection, and well-being of all living and non-living creatures in the universe.
The Sakewa festival is also marked by the Sakewa Sili, or ceremonial dances, each with its own importance and beauty. To demonstrate thankfulness to the creator, dances in various postures reflecting the behavior of animals, birds, and so on are done.
Sonam Lochar (Tamang)
Sonam Lochar is an important Tamang community celebration. The celebration takes place throughout the spring months of January and February (Magha Sukla Pakcha). Tamangs, like other groups, celebrate their festival with tremendous delight and religious passion, which lasts five to fifteen days depending on location.
Tamu Lochar (Gurung)
Tamu Lochar is one of the Gurung Community’s traditional festivities. It commemorates the start of the Gurung New Year, which falls on the 15th of Pusa in Vikram Sambat and the 30th of December in the English calendar. The celebration is enjoyed with the entire family and community.
Tendong Lho Rum Phat
Tendong Lho Rum Faat is one of the Lepchas’ oldest celebrations, traditionally held in August. The three-day celebrations begin with prayers to Mount Tendong in South Sikkim. According to legend, Mt. Tendong helped the Lepcha people during the big flood that flooded the whole Mayel Lyang area, which is today known as Sikkim. The festival is a yearly celebration of appreciation to the Saviour Mountain.
To mark the anniversary, the state capital will host a number of literary and cultural events. On the last day, there will be exhibitions of traditional Lepcha cuisine, clothes, and crafts. This festivals of Sikkim is celebrated by the oldest tribe of Sikkim, the Lepcha tribe.
The birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava, Sikkim’s patron saint, is honored with considerable fanfare in the state. It is observed on the tenth of the fifth Tibetan month. In Gangtok, a procession bearing the Guru’s statue circles the city. Chaams are held at Rumtek monastery to commemorate various events in his life.
There are other festivals of Sikkim, but these are the main festivals.