Sikkim People,  Culture and Cuisine.
 

PEOPLE AND CULTURE

LEPCHAS:

The Lepchas were the original inhabitants of Sikkim. They existed much before the Bhutias and Nepalese migrated to the state. The earliest Lepcha settlers were worshipper of Nature. This faith was basically based on spirits, good and bad.
They worshipped the spirits of mountains, rivers and forests that was natural for a tribe that co-exited harmoniously with the rich natural surroundings.

The Bhutias were responsible for introducing Buddhism to this community. Christianity is also practiced by some. The Lepchas were the original inhabitants of Sikkim. The earliest Lepcha were worshippers of Nature.

The Lepcha population is concentrated in the central part of the Sikkim. This is the area that encompasses the confluence of Lachen and Lachung rivers and Dickchu. Life in a Lepcha dwelling is very simple. Men were a dress called a pagi made of striped cotton. Women were a two piece dress. They speak a language called Lapcha. It is rich in vocabulary related to the flora and fauna of Sikkim. Lepchas are very good at archery.

BHUTIAS:

These are the people of Tibetan origin. They migrated to Sikkim somewhere after the fourteenth century. The Bhutias speak Sikkimese. Bhutia villages are as large as Lepcha settlements. A Bhutia house called Khim and is usually rectangular in shape.
In the inner dry valley of Northern Sikkim, where Bhutias are the major inhabitants. Conditions here are extremely severe and the valleys here are separated from each other by almost impassable high mountains.

The traditional dress of the men is known as the Bakhu, which is a loose cloak type garment with full sleeves. The ladies were a silken Honju which is a full sleeve blouse with a loose gown type garment worn over it. The womenfolk are very fond of heavy jewellery made of pure gold and stones.

NEPALESE :

The Nepalese were the last entrants and appeared on the Sikkim scene much after the Bhutias. They migrated in large numbers and soon became the dominant community. The Nepalese now constitute more than 80% of the population. The Nepali settlers introduced the terraced system of cultivation. Cardamom was as important cash crop introduced by the Nepalese. Except for the Sherpas some Gurungs and Tamangs who are Buddhists, the Nepalese are orthodox Hindus following the cast system. Nepali is spoken and understood all over the state. This language is similar to Hindi and uses the Devnagri script.

The traditional male dress consists of a long double breasted garment flowing below the waist and a trouser known as Daura Suruwal. The women wear a double – breasted garment with strings to tie on both sides at four different places. This is shorter than the Daura and is known as Chow Bandi Choli. They also wear a shawl known as Majetro. The Khukri which has become a symbol of the Nepali (Gurkha) culture, is a sharp edged, angled, heavy weapon carried in a wooden or leather scabbard known as Daab.


CUISINE

Noodle-based dishes such as thukpa, chowmein, thanthuk, fakthu, gyathuk and wonton are common in Sikkim. Momos – steamed dumplings filled with vegetables, buffalo meat or pork and served with a soup – are a popular snack.  Beer, whiskey, rum and brandy are widely consumed . Sikkim has the third-highest per capita alcoholism rate amongst all Indian states, behind Punjab and Haryana.