You might be familiar with the stunning landscape of Sikkim where thousands of tourists flock to experience its bewitching environment. But Sikkim’s beauty is not just limited to its mountains and lakes. The culture of this north-eastern state is vibrant and colourful. And the heart of Sikkim’s culture revolves around sundry of festivals that take place throughout the year. Sikkim festivals are not limited to being religious. A wide range of tourist festivals is organised here.
Find out some of the popular Sikkim festivals here.
- Saga Dawa
- Pang Lhabsol
- Maghe Sankranti
- Sonam Lochar
- Tamu Lhochhar
Vibrant Festivals in Sikkim
1. Saga Dawa
Saga Dawa or the Triple Blessed festival is amongst the most revered Sikkim festivals. Celebrated on the occasion of Budh Purnima- it is believed that on this day Lord Buddha was born, attained enlightenment and nirvana, thus the name Triple Blessed. As it is a religious Buddhist festival, prayers are held throughout the month in several monasteries. Festivities of Saga Dawa include a colourful procession of monks along with music and devotees carrying holy texts and scriptures of Buddha. The main procession takes place in the state capital Gangtok followed by some other villages and towns.
- Celebratory Month and Date-29th May
- Note-(date can differ according to Vikram Samvat calendar)
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Bumchu is one of the most sacred Sikkim festivals in which devotees from Bhutan and Nepal also come to take part. A vessel containing holy water is opened on the 15th day of first Tibetan calendar month in Tashiding Monastery of West Sikkim. The vessel represents good fortunes, and each year the level of water in the vessel is assessed.
The Lamas or the monks take seven cups of water from the vessel and mixes it with water from Rathong Chu river to distribute it among the devotees. After this, water from the glacial river Rathong Chu is added to fill the vessel till the following year. If the level of water is disturbed in any way, it is regarded as the sign of ill fortune for the coming year.
- Celebratory Month and date-1st and 2nd March
- Note-(date can differ according to Vikram Samvat calendar)
Losar is celebrated on the occasion of Tibetan New Year. Unlike most of the other Sikkim Festivals, Losar is celebrated at home where family and friends come together for celebrations that last for two days. Gutor Chaam or battle that depicts good’s victory over the evil is performed at the Rumtek monastery two days before Losar.
- Celebratory Month and date-16th to 18th February
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The Sikkimese New Year is also called Namsoong or Losoong. Losoong is celebrated in the harvesting month with family and friends by Lepchas and Bhutias. A battle between good and evil, where the good always emerges victorious, is depicted during Losoong festival. It is performed in the form of Black Hat dance along with chaams being held at monasteries two days preceding Losoong.
- Celebratory Month and date-8th to 10th December
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5. Pang Lhabsol
We all know the importance and beauty of the colossal Kanchendzonga mountain. Pang Lhabsol is a festival celebrated to mark the sanctity of Mt. Kanchendzonga as the guardian deity of Sikkim. Prayers are offered to the enormous mountain to thank and urge the mountain to keep protecting Sikkim. ‘Chaams’ and the famous warrior dance are highlights of this Sikkim festival. Pang Lhabsol also commemorates the sworn blood brotherhood of Lepchas and Bhutias.
- Celebratory Month-26th August
- Note–(date can differ according to Vikram Samvat calendar)
One of the main Nepalese-Hindu Sikkim festivals is Dassain, celebrated during Dussehra. Goddess Durga is worshipped from Prathama(first day) till Navami(ninth day). The festival is marked with elders give their blessings by applying ‘tika’ or ‘tilak’ on children on the tenth day. The immersion of Durga idol in lakes or river marks the end of this festival.
Celebratory Month– 28th September to 8th October
Note–(date can differ according to Vikram Samvat calendar)
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7. Maghe Sankranti
The first day of the tenth month of Hindu Calendar is marked by the celebration of Maghe Sankranti by Hindus of India and Nepal. Pilgrims take a dip at the confluence of Teesta and Rangit river. The river banks also become hosts of huge fairs. The Jorethang Mela or Maghe Mela of South Sikkim is the biggest amongst all which attracts both locals and tourists in large number.
- Celebratory Month and date-13th-14th January
8. Sonam Lochar
The Sonam Lochar is one of the important Sikkim festivals for the community of Tamang. It is a fifteen-day fete that is celebrated with great zeal on the occasion of the first day of the new moon in Magh month. Members of the Tamang community are dressed in vibrant & traditional attire to celebrate Sonam Lochar. This Sikkim festival is highlighted with delicious traditional cuisines and masked men performing traditional dance, accompanied by damphu or a small drum.
- Celebratory Month and date-17th January
9. Tamu Lhochhar
Tamu Lhochhar is the prime amongst all Sikkim festivals for Gurungs. The Gurung community celebrates the Gurung New Year on this day. Apart from Sikkim, Tamu Lhochhar is also celebrated in the neighbouring states where the Gurung community reside. Several fairs are organised in Sikkim on this occasion that attracts both locals and tourists. Food stalls, spot-on competition and the local delicacy, forms the zenith of fairs in this Sikkim festival.
- Celebratory Month and date-30th December
Other Popular Festivals in Sikkim
1. Flower Festival
The annual Flower festival of Gangtok is amongst the most vibrant Sikkim festivals. The festival begins with an Orchid Show followed by different competitions. It attracts a huge number of locals and tourists alike. The Flower Festival is also held annually in Namchi of South Sikkim.
- Celebratory Month and date-No fixed date; usually held between March and May.
2. Gangtok Food and Cultural Festival
The one of its kind Sikkim festival is one of the most popular tourist festivals. It is organised every year for a whole month in Gangtok. The Gangtok Food and Culture Festival is highlighted with traditional Sikkim cuisine and stalls, traditional music and dance performances. This Sikkim festival is organised in the Titanic Park in Gangtok, marked by a carnival that moves across Gangtok.
- Celebratory Month and date-1st to 31st December
3. Kanchendzonga Tourist Festival
The Kanchendzonga Tourist Festival is organised every year in the enchanting town of Pelling in West Sikkim. Several sports like trekking, mountain biking, kayaking, bird-watching are organised around Rangit River. Dedicated to the mountain god, Kanchendzonga tourist festival aims to promote tourism in the region.
- Celebratory Month and date-No fixed date; usually held in December.
4. Lampokhari Tourism Festival
The Lampokhari Tourism Festival is held every year near Lampokhari Lake. It falls in the list of one of the most colourful and rich Sikkim festivals. This tourist festival is held around the time of Ramnavami. Horse riding, archery, trekking and paragliding near the lake are the highlights of this festival. The flower exhibition, local cuisine and cultural shows adds colour in the Lampokhari Tourism Festival.
- Celebratory Month and date– No fixed date; usually held between the end of March to early April
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How to reach Sikkim
- Air– The newly inaugurated Pakyong airport in Sikkim has made travel to Sikkim easier. Pakyong airport is well connected with Kolkata. It takes 90 minutes to get to Gangtok from Pakyong airport. The longer route will be to go via Bagdogra airport located in West Bengal.
- Train– There is no major railway station in Sikkim. The nearest railway station to Gangtok is New Jalpaiguri in Siliguri, West Bengal. It is around 150 km away from Gangtok. New Jalpaiguri is well connected to all major cities in India. You can hire a cab or take a bus from New Jalpaiguri to Gangtok.