Monks Practicing Chaam Dance
Traditions and Celebrations Rolled Into One
Sikkim has a rich and exquisite culture, and dances of Sikkim play a huge role in giving it this distinction. There are number of folk dances as well as dances that are performed in the many monasteries during their annual celebrations. Every dance has its own specialty and is a treat to eyes and ears. Most of the dances here are related to nature and describe the beauty of the surroundings. For every special occasion there is a different dance that would be the highlight of the day. There are dances that are performed during the harvest season, there are dances that are performed during annual festivals, then there are dances that are folk dances of different communities that are settled here. The most famous of all the dances in Sikkim are the masked dances that are performed in the many monasteries of the state. The instruments that are used with the song accompanying the dances, are exclusive to Sikkim.
It is the most famous and oldest dance of Nepalese community residing here. Earlier, this festival was related to the festival of Tihar, which is the same as Diwali in North India. This festival also celebrates the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile. With time, Maruni was performed even during many personal events, especially marriages. Maruni is performed by both men and women who dress themselves in colorful clothes, shining ornaments and and nose rings. The dancers are usually accompanied by a clown who is called 'Dhatu Waray'. In of the many forms of Maruni, nine unique instruments are used with the dance and this is called the 'Naumati Baja'. The dance is still most common during the Tihar Festival.
Tamang Selo is another breathtaking dance of the Nepali community Tamangs that is performed during different special occasions like marriages, village fairs and childbirth. The dance is also called 'Damphoo Dance' as the main instrument used in the dance is called Dampoo. This instrument is carried by every dancer who performs. The energy and enthusiasm of the dancers is quite infectious and makes the spectator sway along with the rhythmic beats and movements of the dance.
Chaam is probably the most famous dance in Sikkim. It is performed at Enchey Monastery during its annual festival. The dance is performed by the Lamas of the monasteries who are dressed in their traditional costumes along with painted masks and with sparkling jewels. The Lamas carry a ceremonial sword with themselves which is a necessity. The steps of the dances are quite quick and vigorous. The dancers jump in air and leap from side to side, all with carrying a sharp sword in their hand which makes the dance spectacularly amazing. The dance is performed on 18th and 19th day of the 11th month of Tibetan calendar.
Considered to be among the oldest folk dances in Sikkim, Chu Faat belongs to Lepcha community. It is performed to honour the five peaks Mt. Kanchenjunga, Mt. Pandim, Mt Kabru, Mt Simbrum, and Mt Narshing which are supposed to be the guardian of five treasures salt, medicine, minerals, Sacred Books and food grains. The dance is performed on the fifteenth day of 7th month according to Tibetan calendar. Devotional songs accompany the dance where dancers carry better lamps and green bamboo leaves in their hands.
The dances of Sikkim have proved to be a great tourist attraction over the last few years. So many dances are present in Sikkim that it is almost sure that you can witness a stunning performances any time of the year. There are so many monasteries in Sikkim and almost every monastery has its own annual festival where a dance event is virtually mandatory. This makes Sikkim a dream destination for all dance lovers.