Clad in shimmering silk, opulent brocades and sparkling
jewellery, virile Sikkimese dancers evoke the Gods - they dance to the God
Khang-Chen-Dzod-Nga Chennga to worship the eternal snows - the snowy range
- they dance to placate the all powerful 'Lord of the Snows', lest in
anger, it might rain to death, doom and disaster by sending the fearful
avalanches that sweep every thing, before their thundering advance into
the chasm's yawning depths below.
The God is portrayed as fiery red countenanced deity with a crown of five skulls, and riding the mythical snow lion. Sikkim's third Chogyal, Chakdor Namgyal, choreographed the dance and introduced it, just over 250 years ago. Known as the warrior dance, it is performed with all the Panapoly, pomp and princely Eclat of the majesty of battling princes, when the war deity resplendent in fiery flaming grab, along with the fantastic snow lion dances in all the glory of his majesty, a giant in battle array. This dance is strictly sikkimese.
The Black Hat Dance Of Lossong
Demonstrating the triumph of good over evil, is the black hat dance to usher in the Tibetan or Sikkimese new year, full of gay bounce and rhythm; the magic of dance extends to the stag dance, and the skeleton dance, also the folk dances like the Limboo Chyabrung to celebrate the harvest, the Tamang Nach, and the graceful Maruni, danced by a couple with flickering tapers on their open palms. With roots in the traditional culture, and seasonal cycles of the land, the Lepcha folk dances are brisk spontaneous and gay.
Side by side with the dances, is another traditional way to celebrate the harvests, or any occasion, connected or not connected, the ceremonial drinking of 'Chang' offered to the visitors by these fun loving graceful and courteous people, who know the 'joie de vivre' or the joy of life. Chang is fermented millet seeds packed into a cylindrical wooden of bamboo container with a pipe stuck in the seeds, to suck the precious liquid. A demure lass pure hot water over the seeds, explaining, at the same time, the merits of propitiating the 'evil one' by sprinkling a few drops into the air, as an offering to the 'merit-accumulating Ones.'