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Sikkim - Festival Tour

Phang Labsol Festival - End of August

At this festival the snowy range of Kanchendzonga is worshipped for its unifying powers. This festival also marks the signing of the treaty of brotherhood between the Lepchas and Bhutias. The local deities were invoked to witness the historic occasion. The guardian deity is portrayed by a masked Lama dancer as a fiery red-faced deity wearing a crown of five skulls and riding a snow-lion, a truly colourful spectacle indeed.

Bum-chu Festival - January-February

Bum - means "Pot or Vase" Chu - means "Water. The pot containing the Holy water is opened by the Lamas of the monastery. The level of water in the pot tells of things to come in the forthcoming year.

If the water is to the brim, it prophesies bloodshed and disturbances and if the pot is almost dry it signifies famine. However, if it is half full it foretells a year in which peace and prosperity will reign. 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.

Lhabab Dunchen Festival

This festival symbolises the descent of Lord Buddha from the heavens. Lha - means "Heaven" Bab - means "Descent. Legend has it that when Lord Buddha attained Enlightenment, through his spiritual powers he got to know of the whereabouts of his mother and at the age of forty one ascended to the heavens along with thousands of his followers. He stayed in heaven for three months where he preached to his mother but other celestial. Maugalyayana, Buddha's disciple who was on earth as his representative and who also possessed miraculous powers went up to heaven to ask the Lord to return back to the earth. The gods were unwilling to let Lord Buddha return to earth so Maugalyanana suggested that the celestial beings could come to earth instead to attend his preachings. So Lord Buddha decided to come back to earth at a place called Sankasya along a triple ladder that was prepared especially for the occasion by Viswakarma, the God of Machines. This festival hence celebrates this legend of the Lord Buddha.

Saga Dawa Festival - End of May or early June

Saga Dawa is a festival that celebrates and marks the various stages in Buddha's life, namely his birth, his enlightenment and finally his nirvana.

Drupka Tekshi Festival - Around August

This festival celebrates Buddha's first preaching of the four "Noble Truths" to his first five disciples in Deer Park at Sarnath. At Gangtok, there are prayers at the Deer Park and at a secluded place called Muguthang in extreme North Sikkim, followed by a Yak race.

Losar is the Tibetan New Year and is marked with lot of gaiety, festivity, feasting and merrymaking. It normally falls around the first week of February.

The Losoong festival is celebrated on the occasion of the end of the harvest season and the end of the tenth month of the Tibetan Year in the rural Sikkim. On this festival, the Chaam dances are performed at the Tsu-La-Khang monastery, Phodong monastery and Rumtek monastery. Archery competitions are also held amidst feasting and merry making. This dance symbolize the victory of the good spirits over the evil spirits of the year. During the dance the men become gods and attires with mystical symbols.

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

The Tihaar festival is celebrated as the Festival of Lights in Sikkim, which corresponds to the Indian Festival of Lights. This festival is celebrated with the lighting of the lamps accompanied with traditional carolling called Deusi and Bhailo.

Tendong Lho Rum Faat
Tendong Lho Rum Faat festival is specific to the Lepchas and marks the celebration of the Tendong Hill. According to the legend, the hill had risen like a horn during a great flood to save the Lepchas.

Kagyed Dance 
The Kagyed Dance is performed on the 28th and 29th day of the 10th month of the Tibetan Calendar, in the month of December. This dance symbolizes the destruction of the evil forces and prevailing of the peace and prosperity in Sikkim. The Chaam dancers are extremely popular. Chaams are the monks who are accompanied with the liturgical music and chanting. Some sort of the comic relief is also provided by the jesters with the dance. In this dance, various themes from the Buddhist mythology are enacted and it culminates with the burning of effigies made of flour, wood and paper.

The Kalchakra Puja 
Tantrayana is one of the path by which one can attain Nirvana or Enlightenment and Freedom from Suffering. Tantrayana emphasizes on the Tantric or mystic aspect of Buddhism and involves complex and esoteric rituals. The Anutara Yoga Tantra or Supreme Tantra is one of the class of Tantrayana which combines male tantras and female tantras out of which Kalchakra is one of the deities. The rituals and meditations which are performed to Kalchakra with the main aim of attaining Nirvana is known as the Kalchakra Puja. Presently, the Dalai Lama, is the ultimate authority in teachings of Kalchakra Puja in which His Holiness performs to initiate the disciples. The Dalai Lama holds the Kalchakra Mass Initiation Puja usually once in three years which attracts the devotees from all over the world. Kalchakra deity is usually represented in union with his female consort Vishwamata. The body of Kalchakra is blue in colour and has multiple necks, shoulders and faces. The many hands of Kalchakra hold various implements. Viswatma, the consort of Kalchakra, has a yellow coloured body, four faces and eight hands. The Kalchakra Puja centers around the ‘Mandala’ which consists of the rituals, offerings and the deities concerned with the Puja. For the initiation ceremony, the Dalai Lama first prepares the disciple who have to take the tantric vows. The disciple is then initiated in a complex procedure which includes rituals that involves water, crown and the ubiquitous Vajra (Thunderbolt). Now the disciple can practice the tantras diligently with the ultimate aim to attain Nirvana