No, I have never visited Sikkim. My tryst with the culture of Sikkim was thanks to the Commonwealth Youth Games 2008, for which my then company was responsible for providing the cultural entertainment for the entire duration of the festivities. We all have seen if not personally then at least in pictures how pretty the land of Sikkim is. The natural beauty is just enhanced by the beautiful and serene monasteries.
But what actually colours the land of Sikkim is the beautiful folk art forms. Apart from the festivals that are always accompanied by celebration and some sort of music, these art forms have been supported by the government. Out of the many dance forms that come from Sikkim my favourites are the Singichaam and the Yakchaam. But before I talk about them here is a peek into what Sikkim has to offer. The people of Sikkim belong to three different communities – The Lepcha, The Bhutia and the Nepalese and there culture and handicraft is an amalgamation of these three ways of life.
The Lepcha Community is famous Chu Faat and the Sikamari dances which are traditionally their tribute to Nature and Mount Kanchenjeunga. The Nepalese are famous for their Khukhuri Naach – which used to be performed to send off soldiers to battle, the Maruni Naach which commemorates the victory of good over evil, and the Chutkey Naach usually performed by young boys and girls during the harvest season.
The Bhutia dances are the more famous ones and most of their dances have some religious significance. Denzong Gnenha, is performed to show their reverence in God and everything holy. Tashi Yangku dance is their way to thank the Gods for the prosperity of the lands.
And then we have the Singhi Chaam and The Yak Chaam. Both these dances pay tribute to an animal that is indigenous, the Snow Lion (It is an important cultural symbol for Sikkim) and the Yak (Depicting the life of the herdsmen). Both these dances involve a heavy, life size costume into which two people fit one being the front and the other being the back. These two people or dancers control the movements of the animal to depict forms and movement.
Sikkim is famous for its Handicrafts and Arts. Hand woven Woollen Carpets, Wood carvings, Choktse tables, and Thangka Painting, are all famous art forms from Sikkim. It is a well known fact that people in the Bhutia Community are well known Carpet weavers. Thus Sikkim is a land that is rich in Arts, Crafts and culture and is a perfect example of bountiful diversity.
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