Hinduism and Buddhism are the predominant religions in Sikkim so most of the fairs and festivals are celebrated according to the respective calenders. Its colourful festivals are the manifestations of its beautiful culture. Dance and music are an integral part of their fairs and festivals. Chaam is one of the most interesting dance form which is performed by talented artists during the celebrations. Monasteries are the venue for this cultural activity and colourful and vibrant masks are its main highlight. Some of the most famous festivals of Sikkim are:
This festival is celebrated by Mahayana Buddhists. The devotees offer butter lamp at the monasteries. This festival commemorates the three major events in Buddha's life – the birth of lord Buddha, attainment of enlightenment and his passing away(attaining Nirvana). It is celebrated on the full moon day of the 4th month of the Buddhist lunar calender(May/June).
This Buddhist festival is celebrated as on this day Buddha preached his first sermon of the four Noble truths to his five disciples. The venue for this meeting was deer park in Sarnath. This annual festival is celebrated in the month of July/ August. Yak race is an interesting attraction of the festival.
The end of the harvest season is marked by the advent of this festival. This is the most entertaining festival as during this festival Tsu-La-Khang monastery, Phodong monastery and Rumtek monastery come alive with cheerful Chaam dance performances. Archery competition is also held.
Kagyed Dance Festival:
This festival holds deep spiritual message and is entirely dedicated to dance. Celebrated in the month of December the Kagyed dance symbolizes the victory of good over evil. One of the ritual performed during this festival is the burning of effigies made of flour, paper and wood. The dance touches the themes from Buddhist mythology.
This festival is unique in its concept. It is celebrated to worship mighty Kanchanjunga for its powers. The festival also signifies the signing of the treaty of blood brotherhood between the Lepchas and Bhutias.
Apart from these festivals, other festivals of Sikkim are Kalchakra Puja, Bumchu, Losar, Durga Puja, Janmastami and Saraswati Puja.