Sikkim, the state of the multiracial has acclaimed the national and global appreciation for its indigenous heritage and traditions. The entire population of Sikkim can be divided into several ethnic groups. Each of these groups has a language, culture, heritage, traditions, and the dance forms of their own. The gaiety celebrations and festivities present a plethora of opportunities to witness the traditional folk dance of Sikkim. The diversity of the ethnic groups presents a varied and unique dance form which is widely acknowledged by the Sikkimese. Diverse dance from of Sikkim signifies the harmony, love, integrity, and mutual respect amongst the multiracial.
Amongst the all the communities in Sikkim, the three major groups are comprised of Lepchas, Bhutias, and Nepalese. Sikkim folk dance has become an integral part of Sikkimese culture and traditions. Most of the Sikkim culture dance is associated with the enchanting environment and beauty of nature. Few of Sikkim dance personifies the harvest system, and some of them are performed for the invoking the deities, and some for entertainment purpose.
Want to know more about the Sikkim dance name and why it is performed? Here is the list of traditional dance forms of Sikkim performed the diverse communities of Sikkim, its detailed information, and its association with the culture, history, traditions, nature, and spirituality.
NEPALI FOLK DANCE
The famous Maruni dance of Sikkim is associated with the festival of Diwali, Tihar for Nepalese, which is also widely performed on the gaiety occasions like marriage. The celebration of Tihar signifies the return of Rama from the 14 years of exile. During the celebration, the Maruni Dance performers adorn themselves with lavish jewelry and richly hued costumes and go from one house to the other to perform the dance. Sometimes, maruni dance is performed accompanied by the nine instrument orchestra called “Naumati Baja”.
Tamang Selo is the traditional dance form of Tamangs, who belong to Nepali community. The dance is performed with the rhythmic musical instrument called Damphu. Tamang Selo thus is also remarked as the “Damphu Dance”, which is performed with fun and enthusiasm, quick movement and rhythmic beat of the Damphu, making it extremely extraordinary and interesting. Tamang Selo is basically performed during the gaiety occasions like marriage, village fairs, childbirth, etc.
Dhaan means “the raw and harvested paddy grains”. Dhaan Naach is a folk dance of Sikkim performed by the Nepalese community to celebrate the crop harvest, i.e., paddy. It is one of the oldest traditional and cultural heritage preserved and followed by the farming community, which is witnessing the enthusiastic participation of both young and old.
Sorathi: Gurung Folk Dance of Sikkim
Once upon a time, one of the Gurung kings had 1, 600 queens but every one of them failed to produce an heir to the throne. The king in utter despair began snatching all the precious ornaments from his queens and sold then for his lustful pleasures. The grieved queens became helpless, and this dance performance expressed the sorrowful expression and pitiful state of queens.
Chyabrung- Limbu or Subba Folk Dance
Chyabrung is the traditional musical instrument of Limbus. The traditional dance performers tie Chyabrung around their neck and beat the drum with an open palm and with a stick on the other. This generated two different sounds, as Chyabrung is a song less dance, performed only with the rhythmic sound of the instruments. In this dance form, Limbus depicted the graceful movements of birds and animals.
2. LEPCHA FOLK DANCE
Zo-Mal-Lok: Lepcha Folk Dance
Lepchas are considered one of the oldest tribes in the world and they’re the original inhabitants of Sikkim, including Bhutias. They have their own culture, traditions, religious beliefs, and the language of their own, which is being preserved by then till today. Zo-Mal-Lok is a well-known folk dance of Lepchas, performed to signify the sowing, reaping, and harvesting of paddy. This merrymaking spree is enhanced by the participation of both young and old, and every family.
Chu Faat: Lepcha Folk Dance
Chu Faat is another significant folk dance performed in honor of Mount Kanchenjunga, including four 4 adjoining peaks Mt. Kabru, Mt. Pandim, Mt. Narshing, and Mt. Simbrum. These 5 major peaks are believed to be the storehouse of 5 hidden treasures like Minerals, Medicine, Food grains, Salt, and Sacred Books. The dancers carrying green bamboo leaves and butter lamps perform this ritualistic dance with the religious songs. It is performed on the 15th day of the 7th month of the Northern Buddhist calendar every year.
Kar Gnok Lok: Lepcha Folk Dance
Kar Gnok Lok literally means “Dance of Swans”. It is a significant Lepcha folk dance which signifies the migration of the group of migratory swans who take a flight from the hotter regions to the Himalayan region from February- March and from a cold region to the warm plain from October- November. The season migration of these swans guides the Lepchas with the ideal time for sowing and harvesting of the crops.
Mon Dryak Loks
Lepchas are believed to be the skilled hunters, but they never kill birds and animals for pleasure. They follow the ritualistic approach for hunting. Mon Dryak Loks signifies the hunting approach of the Lepchas, with their ritualistic style of carrying their weapons, i.e, bows and arrows.
Tendong Lho Faat
Tendong Lho Faat is Lepcha folklore. It is often retold to the new generations in lyrical poetry. This folklore relates to the divine incident as described in the Bible as the “Great Flood” and “Matsya Purna” in the Indian Vedas.
Mun Hait Lok
Mun Hait Lok is a ritualistic Lepcha folk dance performed along with the devotional hymns. This dance signifies the “Witch Doctor” or the “Mun” performing the age-old ritualistic dance.
3. BHUTIA FOLK DANCE
Tashi Sabdo: Bhutia Folk Dance
Tashi Sabdo is a traditional dance signifying the custom of offering “khadas” or, scarves on special occasions. Young girls and boys perform this dance holding snow white scarves in their hand. The color white is the symbolism of peace, purity, and prosperity.
4. TIBETAN FOLK DANCE
Yak Chaam: Tibetan Dance
Yak Cham is performed to praise the Yak, as it is the only animal on which a man is totally dependent upon for the survival at a higher elevation. This dance signifies Yak and shows the simple and humble way of living of the mountainous herdsmen.
Also called the Snow Lion Dance, Singhi Cham signifies the 5 sacred peaks of the Kanchenjunga which looks like the legendary Snow Lion. These mountains are the significant cultural symbol of the state; hence it is clearly depicted in the Singhi Chaam performance.
5. SIKKIMESE FOLK DANCE
Long ago, a king lost his favorite horse. A search team was sent to look for the royal horse. As the searchers commenced their journey along the solitary paths amid the hills and forests, they ended the monotony of their long journey.
Sikkimese Folk Dance: Lu Khangthamo
Lu Khangthamo is performed for giving thanks to all Gods of the three worlds- heavens, hell, and earth. This age-old traditional dance is performed by both young and old folk, clad alike in their traditional attire and ornaments.
Gha To Kito
Gha To Kito is a song cum dance that illustrates all about the treasures of Sikkim, such as the Snow clad Himalayan ranges, Mount Kanchenjunga, primulas and rhododendrons, sacred shrines, caves, and minerals.
6. MASK DANCE
Mask dance of Sikkim provides an extravaganza which is perhaps nowhere to be experienced in the world. Performed by the monks in the monastery’s courtyard, mask dance is a significant part of religious celebrations and festivities. These dances demonstrate grace and perfect footwork, Lamas with the brilliantly painted masks and robes, ceremonial swords swing and leap with the beating of the drums, trumpeting of horns, and the chanting of the monks.
Amongst the Sikkim mask dances, it is the most important religious mask dance. According to the Tibetan calendar, it is particularly performed in the month of June. It signifies the 8 manifestations of Guru Rimpoche.
This dance symbolizes the destruction of the evil forces and imbuing hope for peace and prosperity to thrive in every home in Sikkim. The dancers are mostly monks who are accompanied by chanting of mantras and ritualistic music. Performed around December, the solemn nature of the dance is infused with the comic relief provided by the clowns.
So, why wait for more? Come be a part of the gaiety celebrations with the folk dance of Sikkim.