CULTURE , MUSIC AND FOLK DANCES
Sikkim finds a unique place in the Indian Union in respect of her rich and unique culture and tradition. It is a place where different communities with their cultures, religions, traditions and customs live together in perfect harmony and this makes the culture of Sikkim not only distinct but also a perfect blend of the culture and tradition of various ethnic communities.
The three main ethnic communities of Sikkim are the Bhutias, the Lepchas and the Nepalese. The business community forms the fourth ethnic community of Sikkim who are basically settled in urban areas. These ethnic communities have their own cultures and traditions but at the time of celebrating their main festivals, the members of all other ethnic communities are invited to celebrate the same together. This reflects how Sikkim has been following the age-old Indian tradition of universal brotherhood i.e. basudhaiwa kutumbakam since long.
In so far as caste system in Sikkim is concerned, there exists no caste system in the state . Both men and women have been given the liberty to enter into marital relations with the members of any caste or faith.
Though Buddhism and Hinduism are the two prominent religious practices followed by a large chunk of people here, people also follow Christianity , Islamism and Sikhism. The highest Gurudwara of the country is situated in Gurudongmar Lake in North Sikkim at an altitude of 17,100 feet.. The 108 feet Statue of Guru Padmasambhava at Samdruptse , the Chardham in Namchi and the Buddha Park at Ravangla , the Sai Temple at Daramdin, the Sridi Temple at Assanthang are the examples of how the Government has been promoting the symbols of religious faiths in the Sate. There has been no record of any religious riots in the State as of now since her merger with the mainstream. This shows how secular in attitude the people of Sikkim are.
Both men and women enjoy equal status in the society. Hence there is no issue of gender inequality in the State- again unique example of a State where women enjoy their rightful place in the society without any fear.
Sikkim is also known for its rich culture of handicrafts. With the effort of the Government to promote arts and crafts of Sikkim, a dedicated Handicrafts and Handloom Institute has been set up in the State. This Institute encourages preserving traditional cottage art and craft of Sikkimese design which includes carpets, wood carved furniture and thanka etc.
MUSIC AND FOLK DANCES
The three ethnic communities, Lepcha, Bhutia and Nepalis constitute the folk dances and songs which are an ingrained part of Sikkimese culture. This music and folk dances relate to the beauty of the natural surroundings, depicting the harvest season and are performed for good luck and prosperity.
Some of the popular music and folk dances are described below:
Nepali folk dance “Maruni” – It is one of the oldest and popular group dance form of the Nepali community, usually performed by three male dancers and the three female dancers. The dancers are usually accompanied by a clown called “Dhatu waray”. Sometimes Maruni dances are performed to the accompaniment of the nine instrument orchestra known as “Nau-mati Baja”.
Nepali folk dance “Tamamg Selo”-This group dance of Tamang community is performed to the rhythmic sound of “Dhamphu”, a musical instrument and hence are also called “Dhamphu “ dance.
Lepcha folk dance”Zo Mal Lok”-This dance portrays the sowing, reaping and harvesting of paddy.
The dance is performed by the Lepcha farmers to reduce the drudgery and monotony of working in the fields.
Bhutia folk dance”Tashi Sabdo”-This age old group dance beautifully and gracefully shows the customs of offering khadas (Scarfs) 0n auspicious occasion. The dancers dance to the melodious tunes dully supported by musical instrument such as Yarkha, Drum, Flute and Yangjey.
Tibetan Yak Dance-This dance is performed to honour the Yak, an animal, to show the utility of Yak to a common man in a high altitude area. Though Chhams are performed in all the monasteries of Sikkim, the ones performed at Pemayangtse, Rumtek and Enchey Monastery being impressive draws a large number of audiences.
The other popular dances are Subba Chabrung Dance,Bhutia Talachi,Tibetan Singhi Chaam,the Sherpa Sebru Naach,Gurung Sorathi,Bhutia Lu-Khang thamo,Lepcha Kar Gnpk lok,Bhutia Gha-to-Kito,Lepcha Dhamra Jo,Bhutia Be-yul-mista,Lepcha Mon-Dryak-Lok,Nepali Dhaan Naach and Bhutia Chi-Rimu.