FESTIVALS IN SIKKIM

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Location: Sikkim.
Famous Festivals: Losoong, Dasain, Tihaar, Losar, Tendong Lho Rum Faat, Bhumchu, Pan Lhabsol}




SAGA DAWA
On this day in different years of his life, Lord Buddha took birth, achieved enlightenment and attained nirvana. These three important events are celebrated in this festival. A procession carries the holy books of the teachings of Buddha from the Tsuklakhang monastery. This festival is held on the full moon of the 4th month of the Buddhist calendar in the end of May or early June.

LHABAB DHUECHEN
The festival symbolises the descent of Lord Buddha from the heaven.
Lha - means "Heaven" ; Bab - means "Descent"
According to legend, Ueen Maha Maya, the mother of Lord Buddha, did not live long, took rebirth in Trayastrimsa or the heaven of the thirty Gods. After attaining enlightenment, Lord Buddha through spiritual powers came to know about the where bouts f his mother and at the age of forty-one ascended to heavens alongwith thousands of his followers.

Lord Buddha stayed n heaven for three months during which he delivered sermons to his mother and other celestial beings. Lord Buddha had left behind on earth one of his disciples, "Maugalyayana", as his representative. This disciple and other devotees of the lord could not bear the long separation and longed to hear his preachings.

Maugalyayana, who possessed miraculous powers, was exhorted to go up to the heaven to request the Lord to return back to the earth. The Gods were not willing to let Lord Buddha return to earth but Maugalyanana suggested that as the earthly beings did not have the powers to visit heaven, the celestial beings could come to the earth to attend his preachings. Lord Buddha finally relented and descended to the earth at a place called "Sankasya" along a triple ladder that was prepared especially for the occasion by "Viswakarma" (also spelt as Vishwakarma), the God of Machines.

DRUPKA TESHI
Falls on the fourth day of the sixth Tibetan month, around august, celebrates Buddha's first preaching of the four "Noble Truths" to his first five disciples in deer park at Sarnath.
1. Truth of suffering.
2. Truth is the truth of the origin of suffering Karma and delusion and their causes.
3. Truth is the cessation of the suffering or the attainment of Nirvana.
4. Truth is the truth of the "Eight fold path" leading to Nirvana.

At Gangtok, it is marked by prayers at the Deer Park and at a secluded place called "Muguthang" in extreme north Sikkim, followed by Yak race.

PHANG LHABSOL
Popularised by the third Chogyal of Sikkim, Chakdor Namgyal, the snowy range of Kanchendzonga is worshipped for its unifying powers. This festival marks the signing of the treaty of brotherhood between the Lepchas and Bhutias by "Kye Bhumsa" and "Thekong Tek". Then the local deities were invoked to witness the occasion. In fact 'Phang' means witness. On this day, masked Lama dancers portray the guardian deity as a fiery red-faced deity with a crown of the five skulls, riding a snow-lion. It is held on the 15th day of the 7th month around end of August.

LOSOONG
The famous Bhutia festival marks the end of the harvest season and also the end of the Tibetan year. Chaam dancings at the monasteries at Palace (Tsuklakhang), Phodong and Rumtek, archery competitions and other festivities mark the occasion. The dances symbolise the exorcizing the evil spirits of the year and the welcoming of the good spirits of the New Year.

LOSSAR
Lossar (also spelt as Losar) is the Tibetan 'New Year' festival that falls in the month of February and is marked with lot of gaiety and festivities.

BUMCHU
Bum - means "Pot or Vase"
Chu - means "water"
Bumchu is celebrated at Tashiding in the month of January-February. During this festival, the lamas of the monastery open the pot containing the holy water. The level of water in the pot foretells the future for the forthcoming year. If the water is to the brim, it prophesises bloodshed and disturbances; if the pot is almost dry it signifies famine and if it is half full, it foretells a year in which peace and prosperity will prevail.

A part of the holy water is distributed amongst the participants and then the pot is replenished with river water and sealed at the end of the festival to be opened only in the next Bumchu.

DASAIN
More or less occurring a few weeks before Losoong, Dasain is the main festival of the Hindu Nepalese in Sikkim. This too signifies the victory of good over evil. The elders of the family apply 'Tika' on the young and bless them.

TIHAAR
Corresponding to the Indian festival of Diwali, Tihaar is also celebrated as the festival of lights in Sikkim with the lighting of lamps accompanied with traditional caroling called "Deusi" and "Bhailo".

TENDONG LHO RUM FAAT
Specific to the Lepchas, this festival marks the celebration of the Tendong hill. According to legend, the hill had risen like a horn during a great flood to save the Lepchas.
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