Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sikkim to Celebrate Pang Lhabsol Festival

Pang Lhabsol, a festival commemorating the conservation of Mt. Kanchenjunga as the guardian deity of the state, is unique to Sikkim. It has its origin in the Lepcha people's belief that the mountain is their place of origin. It is also believed that the festival has its roots in Lhatsun Chenpo's (the propagator of Buddhism in Sikkim) vision. It is said that while meditating in a cave at Dzongri in west Sikkim, the mountain the guardian deity of the state.

Subsequently, Chador Namgyal, the third Chogyal of Sikkim, introduced the "pangtoed" dance and dedicated it to Kanchenjunga as a war deity. However, the actual origin of the festival is said to be the blood-brotherhood pact between the Lepcha bonthing, Thekung Tek, and Khye-Bumsa, the ancestor of the Namgyal royal family.
Pang Lhabsol combines masked dance with warrior dance, giving the festival an inherent drama, which surpasses that found in other Buddhist festivals. There are resplendent costumes and colorful masks, and the choreography is spectacular. Kanchenjunga itself is represented by a dancer wearing a red mask mounted with five human skulls, on top of which are mounted flags.

Yabdu, Kanchenjunga's Supreme Commander, wears a black mask, while the warriors who accompany them are attired in the traditional Sikkimese battle dress, complete with helmets, swords and shields. The dramatic entry of Mahakala, the protector of the dharma, or faith, is one of the highlights of the dance. It is Mahakala who commands Kanchenjunga and Yabdu to defend the faith and bring peace and prosperity to Sikkim.

A week prior to the dance, the lamas of Pemayangtse monastery in west Sikkim, where the festival takes place, offer prayers, invoking Dzonka - the popular local name for Kanchenjunga - to protect the land and look after the people. The festival of Pang Lhabsol is held on the 15th day of the seventh month of the Tibetan calendar.

1 comment:

Pemayangtse monastery said...

Pelling is a quiet and sleepy village in the Western Sikkim where people are so friendly that even when someone is being chided, you won't hear a raised voice..I miss the smiling faces of the people of this town..Definitely the weather has a hand in making the people so pleasant! In the month of October,at dawn, you'll find soft sun rays flitting through the tall snow-clad mountain peak of Kanchanjunga!The Pemayangtse Monastery located at the top of the city of Pelling is a great place for solace and contemplation! A must visit to this part of India :-)