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The Blog

( Catch latest news & hacks related to travel ).

Festivals in Sikkim

Festivals in Sikkim

21 February 2024

12 Famous Festivals of Sikkim: Explore the Himalayan Culture

Sikkim, nestled in the Himalayas, is renowned for its stunning landscapes. This northeastern state offers majestic mountain views, serene lakes, lush greenery, rich biodiversity and many adventurous activities. But that's not all – Sikkim also boasts a rich cultural heritage and vibrant festivals.

 

The festivals of Sikkim are a celebration of culture, traditions, and joy, providing a unique glimpse into the life of its people. From sacred rituals to lively dances and music, each festival showcases Sikkim's heritage, deities, and natural beauty.

 

Thankfully, Sikkim's festivals occur throughout the year, following the Buddhist calendar. Many vibrant festivals, like Losoong, Bomchu, and Tihar, take place in winter, while Saga Dawa and Drupka Teshi are celebrated in the pleasant summer months. 

 

Let's explore some of the famous festivals of Sikkim, which are celebrated from January to December and showcase the life and culture of its people. Before booking your Sikkim tour package, it's best to check the festival dates so you can plan your visit around these exciting events.

 

CONTENTS:

Here’s the list of popular festivals in Sikkim that you shouldn’t miss. 

 

1. Bumchu - The Sacred Water Festival

2. Losar - The Tibetan New Year

3. International Flower Festival - Celebrate Floral Diversity

4. Saga Dawa - Celebrating the Buddha’s Life

5. Drupka Teshi - The Festival of Turning the Wheel of Dharma

6. Phang Lhabsol - Worship of Mount Kanchenjunga

7. Dashain - Durga Puja

8. Lhabab Duchen - The Descent of Buddha

9. Tihar - Festival of Lights

10. Mangan Music Festival - The Festival of Songs and Dance

11. Losoong - Sikkimese New Year

12. Sonam Lhocchar Festival - New Year for Tamang Community



1. Bumchu - The Sacred Water Festival

 

When: January/February

 

Significance: Bumchu is one of the most interesting festivals of Sikkim celebrated at the Tashiding Monastery. It involves the opening of a sacred pot containing holy water, which is believed to predict the future of the state for the coming year based on the water level.

 

What to Expect: A serene yet significant religious ceremony, where monks and devotees gather to witness the opening of the sacred pot. The distribution of the holy water, believed to have healing properties, is the main highlight of the festival that’ll leave you fascinated.

 

2. Losar - The Tibetan New Year

 

When: February/March

 

Significance: Losar marks the beginning of the Tibetan New Year and is one of the most significant festivals in Sikkim, celebrated with great enthusiasm. It is a time when families gather, homes are cleaned and decorated, and food offerings are made to welcome the new year with prosperity and happiness.

 

What to Expect: Witness the stunning procession of monks in traditional attire, the vibrant cham dances, and the towns adorned with colourful decorations and lights. The air is filled with the aroma of delicious Tibetan cuisine, making it a perfect time for food enthusiasts.

 

3. International Flower Festival - Celebrate Floral Diversity

 

When: April/May

 

Significance: The International Flower Festival is a celebration of Sikkim's floral diversity and natural beauty. It attracts tourists and flower enthusiasts from around the world to witness the breathtaking display of colourful blooms and exotic flowers.

 

What to Expect: At this famous Sikkim festival, you can explore enchanting flower displays featuring a wide variety of orchids, rhododendrons, magnolias, and other rare and exotic blooms. The festival also includes flower competitions, cultural performances, and photography exhibitions.

 

ALSO READ: Lesser known facts about Sikkim

 

4. Saga Dawa - Celebrating the Buddha’s Life

 

When: May/June

 

Significance: Saga Dawa is a sacred festival that marks the birth, enlightenment, and nirvana of Lord Buddha. It is a day of prayer, offerings, and acts of kindness, reflecting the Buddhist principles of compassion and peace.

 

What to Expect: The festival is marked by the hoisting of the holy flag at the Rumtek Monastery, followed by a procession through Gangtok. Monasteries are lively with prayers, and the release of lanterns symbolises enlightenment spreading across the world. This is one of the most popular festivals of Sikkim, offering insight into Lord Buddha's teachings.

 

5. Drupka Teshi - The Festival of Turning the Wheel of Dharma

 

When: June/July

 

Significance: Another one of the most famous festivals of Sikkim, Drupka Teshi commemorates the day when Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon to his disciples, setting in motion the wheel of dharma. It's a significant festival for Buddhists, symbolising the spreading of Buddha's teachings to alleviate suffering and bring enlightenment.

 

What to Expect: During Drupka Teshi, you can witness rituals and ceremonies at monasteries across Sikkim. Monks perform prayers and chants, while devotees offer prayers and light butter lamps as a symbol of enlightenment. This Sikkim festival is marked by spiritual enthusiasm and a sense of unity among the Buddhists.

 

6. Phang Lhabsol - Worship of Mount Kanchenjunga

 

When: August/September

 

Significance: A unique Sikkim festival, Phang Lhabsol is dedicated to worshipping Mt. Kanchenjunga, the guardian deity of the land. This festival signifies the harmony between nature and mankind, and the deep respect locals have for their environment.

 

What to Expect: Witness spectacular warrior dances, colourful costumes, and the picturesque setting of monasteries against the backdrop of Kanchenjunga. It’s a time to experience the cultural bond of Sikkim’s people with their landscape.

 

7. Dashain - Durga Puja

 

When: September/October

 

Significance: Dashain, also known as Durga Puja, is one of the longest and most auspicious Sikkim festivals. It's mainly celebrated by the Nepalese Hindu community there. It lasts for about 10 days, like Navratri, with the 10th day being Dashain. This festival is all about celebrating the victory of good over evil, showing how the Hindu goddess Durga beat the demon Mahishasura.

 

What to Expect: Dashain is a time of cultural festivities in Sikkim. You'll see colourful parades, hear traditional music, and watch exciting dance performances. Families and friends come together in public places to enjoy these cultural shows. They dance to folk music like Dandiya and Bhailo, and everyone's in a happy mood, exchanging presents, visiting each other, and enjoying delicious festival foods.

 

ALSO READ: Free things to do in Sikkim

 

8. Lhabab Duchen - The Descent of Buddha

 

When: October/November

 

Significance: This festival commemorates Buddha’s descent from heaven back to earth. It is considered an auspicious day to perform meritorious acts as it is believed that the effects of positive (or negative) actions are multiplied ten million times.

 

What to Expect: Discover spiritual ceremonies in monasteries, prayer meetings, and the fluttering of prayer flags. It’s a serene experience, reflecting on teachings of kindness and the impermanence of life.

 

9. Tihar - Festival of Lights

 

When: October/November

 

Significance: While Tihar, as Diwali is locally known, is celebrated across India, Sikkim adds its own flavour to this festival of lights. In Sikkim, it's not just about lighting lamps but also about celebrating the bond between humans and animals, with special days dedicated to crows, dogs, and cows.

 

What to Expect: Watch the magic unfold as Sikkim lights up in a spectacular display of lamps and fireworks. Locals decorate their homes beautifully and there is a general air of festivity and goodwill. The celebration of the bond between humans and animals adds a unique and touching aspect to the festivities.

 

10. Mangan Music Festival - The Festival of Songs and Dance

 

When: December

 

Significance: The Mangan Music Festival celebrates the rich cultural heritage of Sikkim through music and dance. It aims to promote local artists and traditional music forms, showcasing the diversity of Sikkim's cultural landscape.

 

What to Expect: During this 3-day music festival, you can enjoy mesmerising performances by local musicians, including traditional folk music, contemporary tunes, and dance performances. The festival also features food stalls offering delicious local delicacies, handicraft stalls, and cultural exhibitions. It's a vibrant celebration of Sikkim's artistic talent and cultural heritage.

 

11. Losoong - Sikkimese New Year

 

When: December

 

Significance: One of the most popular Sikkim festivals, Losoong marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the Sikkimese New Year. It is celebrated with traditional zeal, reflecting gratitude towards the Gods for the year’s harvest.

 

What to Expect: Losoong is a festival of folk dances, archery competitions and traditional rituals. The festive atmosphere, combined with delicious Sikkimese cuisine and the spirit of community, makes Losoong a joyful experience.

 

12. Sonam Lhocchar Festival - New Year for Tamang Community

 

When: December/January

 

Significance: One of the most auspicious Sikkim festivals for the Tamang community, Sonam Lhocchar marks the beginning of the Tibetan lunar calendar year. It is a time of renewal and purification, with prayers and rituals performed to bring wealth and good fortune for the new year.

 

What to Expect: At the Sonam Lhocchar Festival, you'll see vibrant parades, traditional dances, and cultural shows. Watch masked lamas perform the Damphu dance to ward off negativity, and savour delicious Tamang cuisine. Homes and monasteries are beautifully decorated, and people offer prayers to seek blessings and protection from the deities.

 

ALSO READ: Offbeat places to visit in Sikkim

 

Embark on a Journey to Sikkim with Us

 

Don’t just read about these incredible Sikkim festivals—experience them! Book your Sikkim tour package with us today and soak yourself in the heart of Himalayan culture. Whether you're looking for spiritual peace, cultural enrichment, or the thrill of adventure, Sikkim's famous festivals and natural attractions have something for everyone. 


Let us turn your next vacation into an amazing adventure of discovery and celebration in Sikkim. Contact us right away to plan your holiday escape to the Himalayas!

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