Festivals of Darjeeling and Sikkim

You must visit Darjeeling and Sikkim to witness the riot of kaleidoscopic of colors. Sikkim and Darjeeling are tucked away in the North Eastern corridor of India in the shadows of the Himalayas. Sikkim is the second smallest state in India while Darjeeling is part of West Bengal. The festivals here match in grandeur with all of India.

An array of festivals is celebrated throughout the year with rich, diverse cultures and traditions. You must plan a trip to experience the celestial and colorful festivals first hand. Here are some of the most celebrated festivals.

1. Saga Dawa:

17th June 2019
Saga Dawa is considered as one of the most religious festivals in Sikkim and Darjeeling amongst the Mahayana Buddhists. The day begins with locals visiting monasteries and offering butter lamps as a token of their devotion.

This festival celebrates the three occasions associated with the life of Shakyamuni Buddha. It is the birth, enlightenment and achieving of Nirvana by Lord Buddha. This celebration takes place on the full moon day of the fourth month of the Tibetan calendar, which is around the end of May and early June.

2. Drupka Teshi:

27th July 2019
Drukpa Tseshi is celebrated with full zeal and splendor as this was the day Buddha gave his first sermon of four Noble Truths to his initial five devotees at a deer park in Sarnath. This day is celebrated on the fourth day (Teshi) of the 6th month (Drukpa) of the Tibetan calendar, which is usually during July or August.

It is one of the widely celebrated festivals in Gangtok, with mass-prayers at Deer Park and Muguthang in North Sikkim. The day is then concluded with a Yak race, which is the highlight of the celebration at Muguthang.

3. Pang Lhabsol:

26th August 2019
Pang Lhasbsol, is unique to Sikkim. It was made famous by Chakdor Namgyal, the third king of Sikkim. The festival involves worshipping Mount Kanchenjunga. It also marks the age-old blood brotherhood treaty that was signed between the Lepchas and Bhutias by KhyeBumsa, TetongTek and the local gods/deities were present to witness the event.

A masked monk depicts the guardian deity during this festival. He is dressed in a bright red costume and a mask with a crown of five skulls while riding a snow lion. “Atchars” or jesters play pranks and antics on the spectators to lighten up the otherwise solemn ceremony. This occasion is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, which is around the end of August.

4. Bumchu:

19th - 20th March 2019
The festival of Bumchu is observed in West Sikkim at the Tashiding Monastery during January. ‘Bum’ means ‘pot or vase’ and ‘Chu’ means ‘water.’ The Lamas of the religious community open the pot that contains the Holy Water during the festival.

Some of the holy water is distributed amongst the devotees that are gathered for the festival, and the pot is refilled with water and sealed to be utilized the following year. The water level in the container predicts the outcome of the year to come. If the water overflows, it means the coming year will be a disturbing year, and on the off chance the pot is dry; it implies a drought and starvation.

5. Kagyat Dance:

16th December 2019
Kagyat Dance is performed every 28th and 29th day of the tenth month of the Tibetan calendar. The monks in the Tsuklakhang Monastery usually perform this dance, and the custom move finishes with the burning of effigies made of flour, wood, and paper, which symbolize the destruction of the evil powers of hatred.

Before beginning this remarkable Buddhist religious festival, Prayers are usually offered by the monks at the beginning of this Buddhist festival. They get together and pray for the prosperity of their community through the medium of dance.

6. Rumtek Chaam:

January 2020
16th January 2019
Rumtek Monastery is renowned for its ‘Chaam’ – the traditional lama dance along with the adapted ‘opera’ performed by the lay people who live in the vicinity of the monastery. The vital ‘Chaam’ of Rumtek is performed two days before the Tibetan New Year and is performed on the tenth day of the fifth month of the Tibetan calendar.

It is also known as ‘Tse Chu Chaam,’ these Chaams represent the eight different manifestations of Guru Padmasambhava, who was an Indian sage who spread the teachings of Buddhism in Tibet.

7. Losoong:

8th - 12th December 2019
The Sikkimese New Year is also known as ‘Sonam Losar’ (the Farmer’s New Year). It is the event wherein the farmers' cheer and celebrates their harvest. Losoong is celebrated among relatives and companions; the spirit of this delightful festival in Sikkim brings all people together for a common reason.

Lama dances are held in almost all leading monasteries two days after Losoong. These dances are believed to expel the wicked spirits of the previous year and welcome the high spirits for the coming year.

8. Enchey Chaam:

19th December 2019
The annual ‘Chaam’- a traditional dance performed by the Lamas of Enchey religious community, is performed each year on the eighteenth and nineteenth days of the eleventh month of the Tibetan calendar usually in December.

Just like in all the Chaams in different parts of Sikkim, this Buddhist religious festival in Sikkim watch the Lamas in their astonishing outfits and perform the divine dance with each other. In Enchey the Drag-dMarChaam of Padmasambhava is believed to be in his most wrathful form!

9. Loshar:

25th - 27th February 2020
5th - 7th February 2019
Loshar is the Tibetan New Year and is celebrated by welcoming neighbors, companions, and relatives for social events. A few days preceding Losar is the Guthor Chaam where beautiful lama dances are held in the Pemayangtse and Rumtek Monasteries to welcome the Tibetan New Year.

The Hindus of Nepalese origin celebrate various Hindu festivals like in Nepal.

For Hindu festivals - 12 most prominent and popular festivals of Nepal

Other articles for this region:
Top things to do in Darjeeling
People of Darjeeling
Top things to do in Sikkim
People of Sikkim
More articles on regional festivals

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