Sikkim is known to be one of the most prosperous states of North East India and it has earned a lot of national and global appreciation for its indigenous culture and heritage. The entire population of Sikkim can be broadly divided into three major groups; Bhutias, Nepalis and Lepchas. These three communities have their own distinct language, cultural phenomenon and dance styles. The beautiful dance forms of Sikkim are an expression of their art, history, culture and their unique way of Life.
Chu Faat Dance by the Lepchas
Courtesy : www.sikkimonline.in
The life force of Sikkim is believed to be Mount Kanchenjunga and it is celebrated by the Lepcha community in a glorious way. They have a special dance dedicated to this mighty peak along with its companions Mt Pandim, Mt Narshing, Mt Kabru and Mt Simbrum. These peaks are believed to contain treasures like sacred texts, minerals, medicine, salt and food grains and their power is celebrated and illustrated by dancers who move around gracefully carrying butter lamps and sheaves of green bamboo. The Chu Faat dance is specifically performed on the 15th day of the 7th month of the Buddhist calendar of North and lots of devotional songs are also performed on that day.
Sikmari Dance of the Lepchas
The Sikmari Dance draws inspiration from the abundant natural bounty that Sikkim is blessed with. The Sikmari dance is primarily a youth dance where all the youth of the state gather to perform dances that demonstrate the beauty of nature and the power of love.
Singhi Chaam Dance of the Bhutias
Courtesy : www.thetribuneindia.in
The Bhutia community were primarily herdsmen and weavers which is why they have a strong affinity towards animals. Their dances also revolve a lot around different animals. The Singhi Chaam dance revolves around the majestic and mythical snow lion which is only found in the snowy climes of the trans Himalayan region. The sacred Kanchendezonga and its four associate peaks represent the majestic snow lion which is one of the most important symbols of Sikkim. The dancers wear huge snowy white lion costumes and engage in mock fights to show the power and strength of the mythical beast.
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Yak Chaam Dance of the Bhutiyas
Courtesy : www.sach.org.in
The Yak Chaam dance is performed by the Bhutia community to honour the Yak which is native to the state of Sikkim. The meat, wool, horns, hooves and every part of the Yak is used by the Sikimeese and there are many families which are dependent on the Yak for their survival. Perhaps this explains why there is a special dance that celebrates the Yak. The Yak Chaam dance also portrays the relationship between the herdsman and the Yak and draws parallel to the lives of many Bhutias. The simplicity of the average Bhutia life is depicted through this dance. This is again a costume based dance and all the dancers wear huge Yak shaped costumes which are amazing to look at. Mock fights, war dances, celebratory gigs and even love scenes are performed by the Yaks.
Denzong Gnenha Dance of the Bhutias
The Denzong Gnenha is a religious dance that celebrates the deep rooted unshakeable faith that the Bhutia tribe has in its indigenous Gods and Goddesses. All the Bhutiya Gods and their religious Gurus are worshipped and celebrated through this unique dance. The joy and the beauty of nature is also celebrated by the dancers who wear interesting and elaborate headgear that are locally made by the Sikimese women.
Tashi Yangku Dance of the Bhutias
Courtesy : www.indiane.tzone.com
The Bhutias believe that there are several Gods and Goddesses who control the seasons and natural phenomenon like floods, landslides, draughts, torrential rains, snowfalls etc. it is in the hands of the Gods to give natural bounty and prosperity ad also in their hands to give draught and famine. The Tashi Yangku dance is meant for appeasing the Gods and praying for continuing prosperity and pace in the region. The dancers move rhythmically too the sacred hymns and chants uttered by monks. The Tashi Yangku is believed to bring in good fortune to the land.
Khukhuri Naach of the Nepalis
Courtesy : www.sikkim.nic.in
The name Khukhuri means bravery in Nepali and it’s no surprise that the famous Khukhuri dance symbolises bravery and valour of the nepali community of Sikkim. This is basically a warrior dance with fierce and quick movements and demonstrates the way soldiers march for the battle. Each warrior (dancer) is given a khukhuri that is carried with them as a signifier of victory. It is said that performing the Khurkhuri dance enhances the sense of courage and valour in a community.
Maruni Dance of the Nepalis
Courtesy : www.photoblog.in
The Maruni dance is one of the oldest dances to be performed in the state of Sikkim. Traditionally it was performed in the Tihar festival by the Nepali community but with the passage of time all communities perform the Maruni on family special occasions like marriages and births. The dance celebrates the age old concept of the victory of good over evil and the dancers are draped in magnificentcostumes and ornaments. The Dhatu Waray or a funnily dressed clown gives all the dancers company as they go about visiting all houses. A grand 9 instrument orchestra accompanies the dancers and is known as the Naumati Baja. The dancers are beautifully dressed in elaborate costumes and glorious ornaments.
Chutkey Naach of Nepalis
Chutkey Naach is one of the most popular folk dances of the Nepalis. This dance is performed by young girls and boys in the open air. Whenever an important state fair or Mela is held in Sikkim then the Chutkey Naach is sure to be a part of the festivities. The young people wear flowers on their bodies and heads and dance to the beats of the tambourine and drums. This is really a happy dance signifying joy and beauty of youth.