Culture of Sikkim
The state of Sikkim is a beautiful state filled with river valleys and blue daunting peaks. Sikkim is a land of diverse tribes and races of people living together. These different tribes and communities have unique features of their own in addition to their distinctive dance forms, culture and craft forms. The diversity of ethnic groups, languages and religion is seen all over the state.
Food of Sikkim
The people of Sikkim love to eat and they cook some of the most delicious items available in north-east with momo being one of the most popular ones. Sikkim food primarily consist of noodles, thukpas, soups and other fermented dishes owing majorly to its very cold climate. Rice is however its main food item. Momos, also known as wantons and dumplings, are favorite amongst the locals as well as the tourists. People coming to Sikkim would never miss the opportunity to taste the amazing momos here which have different fillings ranging from chicken to pork to beef. Boiled and steamed items are found to be mainly existent here with not much use of masalas but other local herbs and spices. Food here is always accompanied by some drinks like the local beer, rum or whiskey.
Thukpa is a Tibetan word, which means noodle. It is generally served with soup. Thukpa contains of noodle, chili powder, and pea soup. Momo is one kind of a snack, which contains flour and water dough, white flour and meat, vegetables or cheese filling. Chhupri is prepared from cow milk.
Kinema is a fermented soybean food, which is rich in protein. Bamboo shoot is a famous food item of Sikkim. This product often used with pork to make a irresistible curry and also to make pickle.
Gundruk and Sinki soup are also famous food items in Sikkim. These are prepared from fermented vegetables, onion, tomato, turmeric and chili powder. Mesu pickle is made of fermented bamboo shoots. Sidra ko achar is a dry fish pickle. Sishnu soup is prepared from nettle leaves, rice, garlic, and salt and turmeric powder. They also prepare alcoholic beverages from maize, millet, rice, fermented cassava root and from barley.
Fairs & Festivals of Sikkim
All important festivals of India are celebrated in Sikkim with great fervour. Apart from these there are some regional festivals of Sikkim which include Losar, Loosong, Saga Dawa, Lhabab Duechen, Drupka Teshi and Bhumchu that are celebrated by Buddhist religious communities. Losar – the Tibetan New Year in mid-December is an important festival of the state when most of the government offices and tourist centres are closed for a week.
Apart from biodiversity, Sikkim is also rich in its tradition and culture. There are many fairs and festivals which are celebrated in the state with much pomp and gaiety, Many festivals of this state are celebrated according to the Buddhist calendar. People wear traditional attire, colorful masks and celebrate their festival in the rhythm of musical instruments. Some important festivals of Sikkim are:
Saga Dawa is the triple blessed festival for the Mahayana Buddhist people in Sikkim. On this day people pray and offers butter lamps in the monasteries. Saga Dawa is included by three day event. They are the birth of Buddha, enlighten taken by Buddha and death of Buddha. It is celebrated on the full moon day of Buddhist lunar calendar.
Phang Lhbsol is the unique festival in Sikkim. In this festival people worship Mount Kangchenjunnga for its unifying power. On this festival the guardian deity is portrayed as a fiery red face deity with a crown of five skulls and riding a snow lion. Pang-Toed dance and spectacular warrior dances are also performed by the monks in the festival.
Bumchu is another remarkable festival in Sikkim which is celebrated at the Tashiding monastery in West Sikkim. The term 'Bum' means pot and 'Chu' means water respectively. On this day, a pot of holy water is opened by the lamas in the monasteries. A part of the water is distributed among the devotees. The water level of the pot foretells the future of the community.
Losoong is celebrated at the end of the harvest season in rural Sikkim. The Chaam dance is performed in this festival, which remarks the victory of the good spirits over the evil spirits. Along with dance, archery competitions also organized in the festival.
The Nepali communities of Sikkim celebrate Dasain festival. This festival remarks the victory of good spirits over evil spirits. The elder person of a family applies Tika on the young and blesses them in the festival.
The Buddhist community of Sikkim celebrates the Drupka Teshi festival. This festival is celebrated on the day, when Buddha received his four noble truths. Drupka Teshi is celebrated on the Teshi day of Drupka month of Tibetan calendar. Along with prayers, a yak race is also organized in the festival.
Hee Bermiok Tourism Festival
Hee Bermiok is an annual festival held in Hee Bermoik city which is
located very near to Gangtok. It started in the year 2005 and since then
thousands of people come to the city to witness this amazing carnival.
The festival is held in the month of May every year.
Crafts festival of Rabongla
A peaceful place in Sikkim, Rabongla is situated at a height of 7000 feet and is one of the most scenic tourist locations in Sikkim. Grand celebrations marks the festival which is celebrated in April.
Tharpu Monsoon Festival
Organized during the monsoon season in Sikkim, the Tharpu festival is held every year in the month of August. It is a traditional and cultural festival in Tharpu, western part of Sikkim.
One of the major Buddhist festivals in Sikkim, Lhabab Duchen is held on the 22nd day of the 9th calendar month of Tibet.
A vibrant and colorful festival held in Sikkim which lasts for one week in Sikkim is one of the major festivals held in Sikkim. It attracts thousands of tourists and locals and people enjoy to the utmost in this festival.
Arts & Craft of Sikkim
There are different art and craft forms in Sikkim. Most of the people of the state live in rural areas and have their age old tradition of making various utility objects. The most popular handicraft objects of the state include woven woolen carpet, choksee table, thankas, and canvas wall hangings depicting painting on different aspects of Sikkim.
For the development of the cottage industries in the state, the government has set up an Institute of Cottage Industries in South District. The locally made handicrafts are sold here for the benefit of the rural people. The state also has many art and craft forms and has many handicrafts in the form of bamboo and cane products and weaving. Gangtok, Namchi and Melli are the famous places of the state for cottage industries and handloom products. The government has taken many initiatives for the development of the handloom industries in the state.
The people of Sikkim have a special skill of craft making. The womenfolk of this state are good weavers. They attract the travelers by their craft work. The handmade papers and carpets of Sikkim have a demand both in and outside the state.
Woolen carpets of Sikkim are very famous. The weavers use different
colored wool and designs in the carpets. Landscapes of clad mountains or
flowering valleys, animals, orchids and some other designs are
decorated in the carpets. Formal carpets of this state are also famous.
The state has some private institutes that teach the method of carpet
The womenfolk of Sikkim are experts in handloom work. Due to the cold
climate, the people of this state generally wear woolen clothes. They
generally weave their clothes like shawls, jackets and scarfs. They make
their bags, dolls, jackets and shawls by designing the old and used
The people of Sikkim are also expert in wood carving. Their wood carving works are seen in the monasteries. The woods in the monasteries have symbols and icons of Buddhism. They also make wooden masks that are worn in dance performances and other social events.
Thangka Paintings of Sikkim has a great value. These paintings could be seen in the numerous roadside shops. Thangka Paintings are generally spiritual in nature and showcases the teaching of Lord Buddha. This paintings are made of cotton canvas and vegetable dyes are used as color.
Music in Sikkim
Western rock music can be commonly heard from the houses, restaurants and business centres in Sikkim. Hindi songs are also gaining popularity among the young masses. Indigenous Nepali rock music with Western rock beat is also popular among the Sikkimese (people of Sikkim). The Nepali lyrics are so heart touching that you can stand a while to listen to its stanzas. The music of the Sikkimese people is accompanied by various musical instruments. Some of the musical instruments used in the music are:
It is a type of wind instrument, resembling a flute which is played by blowing air into it.
It is a type of instrument where solid instruments are used to create music by beating them with metal sticks.
Vandya- Instruments Of Percussion
It is rather like the ‘damroo’ which is a hollow wood covered on both
sides by animal skin and then these ends are hit to create wonderful
Dance in Sikkim
The dances of Sikkim are traditional celebrating harvest and the prosperity period in Sikkim. These dances are accompanied by chanting, traditional musical instruments and the dancers wear traditional masks and bright costumes. Some of the dance forms are Lu Khangthamo, Gnungmala Gnunghey, Rechungma, and Kagyed Dance. The dance and music of the state are accentuated by traditional musical instruments. The different types of dances celebrate the beauty of nature and harvesting period of Sikkim.
There are different folk dances of Sikkim which are an integral part of Sikkim culture. These dances celebrate the harvesting period and prosperity of the state. Some of these dances include:
This dance form is dedicated to a day of thanksgiving to the Gods and deities. This dance form is performed by both young and old people in traditional customs and ornaments. This is a popular Bhutia folk dance.
Gha To Kito
This Bhutia folk dance form is accompanied by songs which describes the state of Sikkim and its beauty.
This Bhutia folk dance is performed praising the state of Sikkim. This is a popular dance form performed in every happiest occasion in the household.
This folk dance form is performed accompanied by devotional hymns and
songs. The dance folk and the songs accompanying them tell the uses of
the majestic bamboos.
This Sikkimese dance is performed during the happier occasions like childbirth, marriage and other social gatherings. This dance form is performed to pay thanks to the God for His blessings.
Be Yu Mista
This is a popular Bhutia folk dance performed in Sikkim praising its natural beauty.
This is the folk dance depicting the Bhutia custom of offering scarves. This dance form is performed by boys and girls.
This is a popular mask dance of Sikkim performed by Lamas in Gompas. This dance form is performed for celebrating religious festivals and provides a spectacular view of the dance form. The footwork and grace with traditional costumes provides a beautiful sight to see. The Lamas wear painted masks and jewels and take ceremonial swords swaying to the beat of the drums and horns. This dance form is performed in sync with the annual rituals celebrated on 18th and 19th days of the eleventh month of the Tibetan Buddhist Calendar.
This dance form is performed by monks during the 28th and 29th day of
the tenth month of the Tibetan calendar. This dance symbolizes the
destruction of evil over good and the look forward to peace and
prosperity in Sikkim. The dancers are popular Chaam and the dance is
accompanied by liturgical music and chanting. The dance form enacts
themes from Buddhist mythology and ends with the burning of effigies
made of flour, wood and paper.
This is one of the significant religious mask dances and is performed on
the 10th day of the fifth months of the Tibetan calendar. The dance
form presents eight manifestations of Guru Rimponche.
This is a masked dance of Sikkim depicting the cultural symbol of Sikkim- the snow lion. The local people display the cultural symbol of the snow lion by dressing up with fury costumes and perform the dance form.
Chu Faat Dance
This dance form honors the life force of Sikkim, Mount Kanchengjunga. The Mount Kangchenjunga with its associate peaks located nearby is honored by dancers by carrying butter lamps and green bamboo leaves. This dance form is performed on the 15th day of the seventh month of the Northern Buddhist calendar.
This dance form is performed by the Bhutia people to honor Yak, the
animal Sikkim is mostly dependent on. This dance form depicts the
lifestyle of the herdsmen of Sikkim.
This dance form is a bravery warrior dance form performed in honor of
the ritual of giving religious touch to soldiers sent for battle. The
warriors are also given a Khukuri which is to be always carried by them.
This is one of the oldest dance form of the Nepalis. This dance form is mostly performed during marriages and celebrates the victory of good over evil.