In Sikkim, Buddhism and Hinduism are the predominant religions. The Nepalese people are mostly followers of Hinduism, whereas the Sikkimese, Bhotias and Tibetans are mostly followers of Buddhism. On account of this, various festivals are celebrated all through the year in the state. The Fairs and festivals in Sikkim reflect the rich history and culture of this erstwhile kingdom. They are also major contributors towards tourism in Sikkim, attracting numerous tourists from all over the world.
Buddhist festivals of Sikkim:
Considered among the holiest festivals of the Buddhists, it is celebrated to mark the birth of Lord Buddha on a full moon day on the 4th month of the lunar calendar of the Buddhists. There are usually processions in Gangtok carrying the holy books on the teachings of Buddha.
In the month of January/ February, Bumchu is celebrated at the Tashiding monastery. The festival is characterized by the opening of a pot of 'holy water' by the lamas (Buddhist monks). It is believed that the level of water in the pot is able to predict the future of the times to come. The water is then distributed freely to all the devotees and the pot filled again and stored for the next year.
Performed in December corresponding to the 10th month of the Tibetan calendar, The Kagyed dance symbolizes the destruction of evil forces. The ritual hopes to bring peace and prosperity to the land. The dance is accompanied by music and chanting of the monks.
Lossong is a celebration that marks the end of the harvest season. It takes place in the 10th month of the Tibetan Year. The festivities take place at the monasteries in Rumtek, Phodong and Tsu-La-Khang. Exorcizing of evil spirits is practiced through dances and good spirits are invited. There are usually archery competitions too to mark the festival.
This day is believed to mark the division of summer and winter solstice. It is also known as ' Makar Sankranti' in other parts of the country. On this day, the local people of Nepal bathe in the rivers and offer prayers by fasting. People meet and greet other at makeshift fairs which are organized at the banks of rivers. The offering of prayers usually commences at dawn.
Viswakarma Puja is held every year on the 17th of September in honour of Lord Vishwakarma. Temporary pandals are constructed and the statue of Lord Viswakarma is worshipped.
A popular festival of colors of the Hindus, Holi is celebrated with flair in Sikkim. There are various competitions held in the heart of the town and people celebrate the occasion by spraying colored water on each other. There is festivity and merrymaking through singing and dancing. Holi marks the advent of spring in the hills.
Ramnavami is celebrated widely to mark the birth of Lord Rama. This auspicious occasion is held on the ninth day. Prayers are offered for prosperity and enlightenment.
Other popular Fairs and festivals in Sikkim:
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