Sikkim Festival

Bumchu

Bum means “Pot or Vase” Chu means ‘Water”.  Celebrated at Tashiding in the month of January-February.  During this festival, thepot containing the holy water is opened by the Lamas of the monastery.  The level of water in the pot foretells the future for the forth coming year.  If the water is to the brim, it prophesises bloodshed and disturbances.  If the pot is almost dry it signifies famine and if it is half full it foretells a year in which peace and prosperity will prevail. A part of the holy water is distributed amongst the participant 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.

Phang Lhabsol

Popularised by the third Chogyal of Sikkim, Chakdor namgyal, the snowy range of kanchendzonga is worshipped for its unifying powers.  This festival marks the signing of the treaty of brotherhood between the Lepchas and Bhutias by Kye Bhumas and Thekong Tex when the local deities are invoked to witness the occasion.  In fact ‘Phang’ means witness.  On this day the guardian deity is portrayed by masked lama dancers as a fiery red-faced deity with a crown of five skulls, riding a snow-lion.  It is held on the 15th month i.e. around end of August.

Drupka Teshi

It falls on the fourth day (Tse-shi) of the sixth Tibetan month (Dhrup-ka), around August and it celebrates Buddha’s first preaching of the four “Noble Truths” to his first five disciples in Deer park at Sarnath.

  1. “Truth of Suffering”
  2. Truth is the truth of the origin of Suffering karma and Delusion and their causes.
  3. Truth is the cessation of the Suffering or the attainment of Nirvana.
  4. Truth is the truth of the “Eight Fold Path” leading to Nirvana.

At Gangtok, it is marked by prayers at the Deer Park and at a secluded place called Muguthang in extreme North Sikkim, followed by Yak race.
Saga Dawa
Lord Buddha’s birth, his achieving enlightenment and finally attaining nirvana are celebrated on this day.  A procession carries the Holy books of the teachings of Lord Buddha from the Tsuklakhang Monastery.  This festival is held on the full moon of the 4th month of the Buddhist calendar, which happens to be the end of May or early June.

Lhabab Dheuchen

This festival symbolises the descent of Lord Buddha from the heaven.  Lha means “Heaven” Bab means “Desent” According to legend, Queen maha maya, the mother of Lord Buddha,  did not live long.  She took rebirth in Trayastrimsa or the heaven of the thirty Gods.  After attaining Enlightenment, Lord Buddha through spiritual powers came to know about the whereabouts of his mother and at the age of 41 he ascended to heavens along with thousands of his followers.  Lord Buddha stayed in heaven for three months during which he delivered sermons to his mother and other celestial beings.  Lord Buddha had left behind on earth one of his disciples, Maugalyayana, as his representative.  This disciple and other devotees of the Lord could not bear the long separation and longed to hear his preaching.
Maugalyayana, who possessed miraculous powers, was exhorted to go up to the heven to request the Lord to return back to the earth.  The Gods were not willing to let Lord Buddha return to earth but Maugalyanana suggested that as the earthly beings did not have the powers to visit heaven, the celestial beings could come to the earth to attend his preaching.  Lord Buddha finally relented and descended to the earth at a place called Sankasya along a triple ladder that was prepared especially for the occasion by Viswakarma, the God of Machines.