Culture of Sikkim
The People of Sikkim consist of three ethnic groups, that is, Lepcha, Bhutia and Nepali. Communities of different hues intermingle freely in Sikkim to constitute a homogenous blend. Hindu Temples coexist with Buddhist Monasteries, Churches, Mosque and Gurudwara. The predominant Communities are Lepchas, Bhutias and Nepalese. These myriad Cultures has produced a quintessential Sikkimese Culture that encompasses all ways and walk of life, but has also managed to preserve their own identity. These can also be seen in the various places of Worship, Festivals and Cultural dances that are celebrated through the year.
Sikkim has 11 official languages: Nepali (lingua franca), Bhutia, Lepcha (since 1977), Limbu (since 1981), Newari, Rai, Gurung, Mangar, Sherpa, Tamang (since 1995) and Sunwar (since 1996). English and Hindi are also spoken and understood in most of Sikkim. Other languages include Dzongkha, Groma, Magar, Majhi, Majhwar, Nepal Bhasa, Sikkimese, Sherpa, Thulung, Tibetan, and Yakha.
Hinduism has been the major religion in the state since Nepalis take over Sikkim, followed by Buddhism and native religion practised by Native Sikkimese people. Sikkim has 75 monasteries, the oldest dating back to the 1700s. The Christians are mostly Lepcha people who were converted by British missionaries since the late 19th century. Among other minorities are Muslims of Bihari ethnicity and Jains.
Noodle-based dishes such as the thukpa, chowmein, thanthuk, fakthu, gyathuk and wonton are common in Sikkim. Momos, steamed dumplings filled with vegetable, buff (buffalo meat) or pork and served with a soup, are a popular snack. Beer, whiskey, rum and brandy are widely consumed.
Festivals and Music
The Sikkimese celebrate all major Hindu festivals such as Diwali and Dussera. Nepali festivals like Tihar and Bhimsen Puja are common. Losar, Loosong, Saga Dawa, Lhabab Duechen, Drupka Teshi and Bhumchu are Buddhist festivals. During the Losar (Tibetan New Year) most offices and educational institutions are closed for a week. Muslims celebrate Id-ul-fitr and Muharram. Christmas has also been promoted in Gangtok to attract tourists during the off-season.
Western rock music and Hindi songs have gained wide acceptance among the Sikkimese. Indigenous Nepali rock and Lepcha music are also popular. It is a center for western-style music in India, and has been since the rise of bands like Orchids and Naren Rasaily’s Flickers, beginning in 1968. This period ended in 1973, though it was revived in 1982 by Shooting Star and Soul Saviour (a reincarnation of Flicker). Sikkim is largely Nepali and popular Nepali singers Bejamin Rai, and Sukmit Lepcha are Nepali-style singers. Another popular act is Sikkim’s Star (C.B Gurung, Bhanu Gurung, Kailash Gurung).