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Festivals of Sikkim
Saga Dawa (May)
Saga Dawa is the fourth month of Lunar Calendar and it is the holiest month for all Tibetan Buddhists or Himalayan Buddhists. The entire month of Saga Dawa is considered very sacred, and is believed that any merit obtained for the performance of a good deed or religious practices (e.g. reciting of mantras) is multiplied by many folds. Many forgo eating meats, perform prostrations around Buddhist monuments and some fast or remain silent for a week. Daily prayers and ceremonies at held at different monasteries and holy sites around himalayas. The main date falls of the 15th day or the full-moon day of the fourth month of lunar, usually around the end of May or June. On this day, in different years, Lord Buddha took birth, achieved Enlightenment and passed away attaining Nirvana.
Lhabab Dhuechen
Lhabab Dheuchen represents the descent of Lord Buddha from the heaven after teaching his deceased mother, Mahamaya. The literal meaning of 'Dhuechen' is 'festival', whereas 'Lha' means 'heaven' and Bab means 'descent'. The festival has a legend behind its celebration. The festival falls on the 22nd day of the ninth month of Lunar Calendar every year. The Buddhists celebrate this event with all zest and zeal in Sikkim.
Drukpa Tsheshi (July/August)
Drukpa Tsheshi is again a unique festival, celebrated by the Buddhists. In the vein of other religious festivals, Drukpa Tsheshi is also attached with the religious sentiments of the Buddhists. The festival commemorates the event, when Lord Buddha turned the Wheel of Dharma for the very first time. Actually, this event marks the beginning of spreading religion and the first sermon that the Lord gave to his five disciples at Sarnath.
Durga Puja (September/October)
Durga Puja is an important Hindu Festival celebrated all over India with different rituals and festivities especially in eastern India. It is celebrated in the month of September/October every year. Durga Puja is one of the most important festivals in India. Durga Puja is more than a festival. It is a celebration of life, culture, popular customs and traditions. It is a time of reunion and rejuvenation to love, to share and to care. Durga Puja is an important Hindu festival celebrated all over India with different rituals and festivities especially in eastern India. It is celebrated in the month of September/October every year.
Dusshera (October/November)
Hindus throughout India celebrate Dussehra Festival, although by different names. Also known as Vijaya Dashmi ('Vijay' meaning 'victory' and 'Dashmi meaning 'tenth day'), Dussehra festival has a number of legends associated with it. It is believed that it was on this day that Lord Rama killed the demon king Ravana and took over his empire, Lanka. In the Bengal area, Dussehra is believed to be on that day when Goddess Durga annihilated the evil demon Mahisasura. In essence, the festival of Dushehra signifies the conquest of good over evil.
Diwali (November)
Diwali, which falls on the third day is considered to be the most important day when goddess Lakshmi comes visiting every home which is lit bright with candles and electric lights. The fifth day is also known as Bhai Tika in which brothers visit the homes of their sisters and they apply tikas vermilion to each other foreheads. It is also an occasion for exchanging gifts. During Tihar, traditional carols called Bailo or Deusi are sung.
Saraswati Puja (January)
This festival falls in the month of January and honours the Hindu Goddess of knowledge "Saraswati". School children place their study books in front of the statue and seek blessings for doing well in their studies.
Kagyat Dance (December)
Kagyat Dance is a very popular form of dance in the state of Sikkim. This dance form is performed with a mask on. The Kagyat dance of Sikkim is closely associated with a particular occasion in Sikkim and has a definite significance to the people of Sikkim. Therefore, it is often considered as one of the most popular festivals in the state. The main sites of the Kagyat dance at Sikkim are the monasteries. These monasteries include the monasteries of Enchey, Ralong, Tsulakhang, Rumtek, Phensang and Phodrang.
Holi (March)
The colorful festival of Holi is celebrated on Phalgun Purnima which comes in February end or early March. Holi festival has an ancient origin and celebrates the triumph of 'good' over 'bad'. The colorful festival bridges the social gap and renew sweet relationships. On this day, people hug and wish each other 'Happy Holi'.
Losar (November)
Losar is celebrated usually in the month of February. Actually, the Sikkimese' share their new year with the Tibetans. The youth mostly comprising Tibetans take out procession in the streets of Sikkim. On the festive day, Yak dance is also observed. People throw sampa, which is a kind of greeting and welcoming the New Year with screams of 'Tashi Delek'. The Tibetan community involves itself in the festivity a week prior to the day.
Phang Lhabso (August)
This festival is quite unique to Sikkim. It was popularised by the third Chogyal of Sikkim, Chakdor Namgyal. In this festival the snowy range of Kachendzonga is worshipped for its unifying powers. This festival marks the signing of the treaty of brotherhood between the Lepchas and Bhutias by Khye Bumsa and Tetong Tek when the local deities were invoked to witness the occasion. In fact Phang means witness. On this day, the guardian deity is portrayed by masked Lama dances as a fiery red-faced deity with a crown of five skulls, riding a snow lion. To lighten the mood of the spectators, jesters called 'Atchars' play antics during the Chaams.
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