Sikkim, Culture, tradition and people

Sikkim, Culture, tradition and people:

Sikkim is a state in north-eastern India. It borders Tibet in the north  and northeast, Bhutan in the east, Nepal in the west, and West Bengal in the south. And Sikkim is also located close to India’s Siliguri Corridor near Bangladesh. Also, Sikkim is the least populous and second smallest among the Indian states. A part of the Eastern Himalaya, Sikkim is notable for its biodiversity, including Alpine and subtropical climates, as well as being a host to Kanchengjunga, the highest peak in India and third highest on Earth.

Gangtok is the capital of Sikkim. Almost 35% of the state is covered by the Khangchengjunga National Park.


Namgyal dynasty founded the Kingdom of Sikkim in the 17th century. The Buddhist priest-king known as the Chogyal ruled Sikkim. It became a princely state of British India in 1890. After 1947, Sikkim continued its protectorate status with the Republic of India. And moreover, it enjoys the highest literacy rate and per capital income among Himalayan states.  In 1973, anti royalist riots took place in front of the Chogyal’s palace. Again, in 1975, the people deposed the monarchy. A referendum in 1975 led to this state joining India as its 22nd state.

Sikkim accounts for the largest share of cardamom production in India, and is the world’s second largest producer of the spice after Guatemala. It achieved its ambition to convert its agriculture to fully organic over the interval 2003-2016, the first state in India to achieve this distinction. In addition to these, it is also India’s most environmentally conscious states, having banned plastic water bottles “In any government functions and meetings” and polystyrene products.


According to 2011 census, 57.8% follow Hinduism, making it the state’s majority religion. Buddhism is followed by 27.4% of the population, while Christianity is followed by 9.9% There are many Hindu temples throughout the state.

Vajrayana Buddhism, which accounts for 27.3% of the population, is Sikkim’s second-largest, yet most prominent religion. Prior to Sikkim’s becoming a part of the Indian Union, Buddhism was the state religion under the chogyal.

Christians in Sikkim are mostly descendants of Lepcha people who were converted by British missionaries in the late 19th century and constitute around 10 percent of the population. As of 2014, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Sikkim is the largest denomination in Sikkim.

Other religious minorities include Muslims of Bihari ethnicity and Jains, who each account for roughly one percent of the population. The traditional religious of the native Sikkimese account for much of the remainder of the population.

Although tensions between the Lepchas and the Nepalese escalated during the merger of Sikkim with India in the 1970s, there has never been any major degree of communal religious violence, unlike in other Indian states. The traditional religion of the Lepcha people is Mun, an animist practice which co-exists with Buddhism and Christianity.


Sikkim’s Nepalese majority celebrate all major Hindu festivals, including Diwali and Dashain. Traditional local festivals, such as Maghe Sankranti and Bhimsen Puja, are popular. Losar, Saga, Dawa, Lhabab Duechen, Drupka Teshi nd Bhumchu are among the Buddhist festivals celebrated in Sikkim.

Sikkimese Muslims celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr and Muharram. Christmas has been promoted in Gangtok to attract tourists during the off-season.

Western rock music and Indian pop have gained a wide following in Sikkim. Indigenous Nepali rock and Lepcha music are also popular. Sikkim’s popular sports and football and cricket, although hang gliding and river rafting have grown popular as part of the tourism industry.


Noodle-based dishes such as thukpa, chow mein, thenthuk, fakthu, gyathuk and wonton are common in Sikkim. Momos-steamed dumplings filled with vegetables, beef or pork and served with soup-are a popular snack.

Beer, Whisky, rum and brandy are widely consumed in Sikkim. Tongba, a millet based alcoholic beverage is popular in Nepal and Darjeeling. Sikkim has the third-highest per capita alcoholism rate amongst all Indian states, behind and Punjab and Haryana.

People of Sikkim:

The people of Sikkim are warm, simple and friendly with a nature gaiety. In general, they are known as Sikkimese. But Sikkim is a state of diverse communities, cultures, religions and customs. Sikkim has a good mechanism of living harmony in between people of the states.  It is a good example of Indian “Unity in Diversity”. There are three main communities in Sikkim- Lepchas, Bhutias and Nepalese.

The Lepchas:

The Lepchas were said to be the original inhabitants of Sikkim. Lepchas are concentrated in the central part of Sikkim.  Nowadays they are mainly adopting Buddhism or Christianity. Near about 10 to 14 percent of the communities of Sikkim belong to this community.  This area encompasses the confluence of Lachen and Lachung rivers and Dickchu.

The Lepchas speak the language Lepcha, although this language is not very well developed but is rich in vocabulary related to the flora and fauna of this place.

The Lepchas have a very simple lifestyle.  They are very intelligent  and hospitable in their nature.

They build a house known as”li”. It has a rectangular shape and 4 to 5 feet height, made by wood or bamboo. A traditionally dressed Lepchas male wear half pajamas, under a robe made of striped cotton resembling a loose jacket the whole ensemble is called a “pagi”. The Lepcha lady wears a two-piece dress-a full sleeved blouse called “tago” and a skirt called “domdyan”.

The Bhutias:

The Bhutias originally belong to the Tibetan origin. Mainly they are settled on the northern part of Sikkim are known as the Lachenpas and Lachungpas. They speak ‘Sikkimese’ language, dialect of the  Tibetan language. If compared with the Lepchas, the Bhutias  are dominating large number of villages.

A Bhutia house called “Khin” is usually of rectangular shape. The traditional dress of the male member is known as the “Bakhu” which is a loose cloak type garment with full sleeves.  Generally, the ladies are very fond of heavy jewellery. 

 The Nepalese:

 The Nepalese are the people of Nepal who have settled in the state of Sikkim. Nepalese are very trust worthy people, and they are mostly known for their loyalty, honesty and bravery. There are additional languages in Sikkim like, Limbu, Sherpa, Rai, Gurung, Magar, etc.

But they all are referred to as the Nepalese. The Nepalese live in an ordinary house and they are very simple. They too prefer to wear heavy jewelleries like the Tibetans. Beverages like the ‘Tongba’, ‘Jaarnd’, and ‘Chhaang’.

Well, the Nepalese, Rais, Gurungs,  Sherpas, Limbus, Magars, all together are known as the Indian Gorkhas. The Gorkhas are known for their magnificent roles in the Indian Army.

Summing up, the people of Sikkim are very good and humble.

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9 thoughts on “Sikkim, Culture, tradition and people

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