Originally Sikkim is the home of Lepcha. The literal meaning of Sikkim is Lepcha-Hut. They were in Sikkim from the ancient times. Around 70% of population is Nepali community in Sikkim. They migrated here several centuries ago from Nepal. So in presents Nepali has became emerging population. Bhatia’s is the tribal community who migrated from Tibet and built their first monastery in West Sikkim "DUBDI MONASTRY" around 200yrs ago. So there are basically three communities in Sikkim.
High up among the clouds in the Himalayas, amidst the abode of Gods, legend says that there was a country known as 'Mayel'. And there lived a tribe of simple folk who called themselves `Mu-Tanchi-Rong Kup`, meaning `the mother's loved ones.
The Rongs popularly known as the Lepchas live here. The word Lepcha, or Lapche means the people of vile speech and was a contemptuous appellation given to this tribe by the dominant Nepalese. Amidst the idyllic backdrop of Mount Kenchenjungha, this tribe has managed to create a perfect harmony with nature. Now many generations have passed and the place has changed radically. The once unexplored, uncharted territory inhabited by the amiable, peace-loving people has now seen the rise of an all-pervasive cosmopolitan culture.
Among the hill-settlements in Darjeeling Districts, touched by modernity, Lepchas from a negligible minority. As a community they are virtually unnoticed. They have started living in the outskirts of the towns creating small hamlets in the valleys and gorges, faced with a bleak and uncertain future. The members of the community who belong to the urban milieu have almost lost their Lepcha identity.
The process of development imposed by the colonial rulers had reduced the tribe to a state of subordination. The original inhabitants of the land were subjected to a forced homogenization that broke their tribal spirit. The emergence of the so-called modernization also dislocated the people economically and socially.
The Nepalese are the major community in Sikkim - Darjeeling region. They started to migrate in Sikkim long after the Bhutia settlement. The Nepali community is composed of different sub-cultural stocks with considerable differences in physical characteristic and customs. Each tribe is sub-divided into many classes. The most important of these tribes are: Limbu, Gurung, Magar, Rai, Tamang, Mewar etc.
Of the caste Hindus, there are the Brahmins, Chettris etc. Among the low caste tradesman there are the Sarki, Kami,Damai etc. The Nepalese are spread throughout the east, south and west of Sikkim. They are mostly Hindus but some of them are Buddhists. They have terraced fields and also work on building roads. They are also good at trade and own many shops in the main Bazaar at Gangtok. They also work as Silversmiths.
The immigration of the Nepalese and their rapid expansion has created a serious problem for the original inhabitants - the Lepchas and the Bhutias. The Nepalese are not only multiplying more rapidly in numbers but are also ahead in education which enables them to get jobs in government. While the Lepchas and Bhutias still prefer the traditional education in the monasteries, the Nepalese send their children to schools. The Lepchas and Bhutias are averse to cultivate waste lands. Nepalese plant maize which grows in abundance and is their staple food. The Nepalese children work from the age of five and when they are ten years of age are able to earn more than they consume.
Their style of living is comparatively much economical. Their dress and diet are simple. They do not spend much money on marriage and festival. On the other hand, the Lepchas and Bhutias take rice with meat, if possible. Their dress is expensive. Above all, they have to support the monks, according to the religious custom, make occasional offerings, either in kind or cash to the 'gompa' and then pay a high fee to the priests for the various services rendered by them.
The Bhutias, who are all Buddhists, are quite distinct from the Lepchas. The Tibetan Bhutias entered Sikkim by way of Bhutan and settled in higher altitudes after driving the original inhabitants, the Lepchas into forests and lower valleys. They converted the indigenous Lepcha people to their religious faith, established matrimonial relations with them and thereby paved the way for cultural and social assimilation of the two races. This gave rise to a new race.
The matrimonial relation between the Tibetan nobles and Lepcha chiefs or Jongpons gave rise to a new affluent class of Kazis. The Sherpas are considered to have descended from the Bhutia-Lepcha cross stock. The Bhutias are mostly traders and Herdsman. But many of them are accustomed to cultivation now-a-days. The Bhutias are more assertive and industrious than the Lepchas. They are not fond of isolation as the Lecphas.
The main religion for the people of Sikkim is Hinduism though a sizeable population follows Buddhism as well. Tibetans and Sikkimese Bhutias follow Buddhism while Hinduism is followed by the Nepalese. Some of the important Buddhist festivals are Saga Dawa, Lhabab Dhuechen, Phang Lhabsol and Drukpa Tsheshi. The Hindu festivals celebrated there are Durga Puja, Dusshera and Diwali.
Bumchu Festival :
14th and 15th day of the 1st month of Lunar Calendar corresponding to the month of February/March.
1st of 7th days of the 11th month of the lunar calendar corresponding to the month of December/January.
15th days of the 2nd month of the lunar calendar corresponding to the month of August and September.
Tetongsi Sirijonga Sawan Tongnam:
Tamu Lochar (Gurung):
Tibetan New Year on Feb/March.
The 1st month of Magh corresponding to Geograin calendar 13-15 January.
The communities have their own traditional folk dance forms. The Nepalese, the Lepchas and the Sikkimese have unique folk dances, each different and each amusingly groovy.
Dances of Nepali : Maruni Dance Maruni One of the oldest and most popular dances of the Nepalese associated with the festival of Tihar(Tyohar) or Diwali and various ceremonies and occasions.
Tamang Selo Performed on occasions like marriage ceremony, childbirth and village fairs with the rhythmic sound of the “Damphoo”, a musical instrument.
Dau Ra JaneZo-Mal-Lok It is performed during the happy ceremonies by the young girls in their traditional and vibrant outfits.
Sebru Naach It is a narration of the lifestyle of the Sherpas who are very fond of performing arts like dance and songs.
Dances of Lepcha :
Zo-Mal-Lok A depiction of sowing, reaping and harvesting of paddy.
Chu Faat It is is performed in honour of the Mount Khangchendzonga and its four associate peaks, Mt.Pandim, Mt. Kabru, Mt. Simbrum and Mt. Narshing.
Kar Gnok Lok This “Dance of Swans” is a depiction of tarriance of a group of migratory swans.
Dharma Jo It depicts the harvest season among Lepchas.
Mon Dryak Loks A hunting dance for the supposedly adept hunters.
Tendong Lho Faat A folklore retold to the new generation corresponding the divine events in Vedas.
Mun Hait Lok A traditional dance by both Lepcha men and women.
Dances of Sikkimese :
TalachiThe dance is accompanied with a folklore related to a king.
Lu Khangthamo This dance is a day of thanks giving to all Gods and deities of the three worlds, Heaven, Earth and Hell.
Gha To Kito This is a song cum dance which describes all about the treasures of Sikkim.
Be Yu Mista Males and females perform to applaud Sikkim in this dance form.
Chi Rimu A much popular dance for happy events and ceremonies performed by old and young.
Rechungma It is performed on the happy occasions like childbirth, marriage and other social gatherings.
Gnungmala Gnunghey It is a typical Bhutia fold dance performed in praise, by both male and female
Tashi Zaldha This dance depicts the Bhutia custom of offering scarves, performed by boys and girls.
Enchey Chaam A famous mask dance performed by lamas in the ‘Gompa’ courtyard to celebrate religious festivals, dances demonstrate perfect footwork and grace.
Rumtek Chaam The most important dance performed on the 10th day of the 5th month of the Tibetan calendar, corresponding to the month of June.
Kagyed Dance A symbolism of the destruction of the evil forces and hoping for peace and prosperity to flourish in every Sikkimese home, it is performed on the 28th and 29th day of the 10th month of the Tibetan Calendar, around December.
Gouthor(Winter) Chaam. This is performed in the month of February usually two days prior to Losar.