The Culture Of Sikkim Through Its Food And Traditional Dresses

The Culture Of Sikkim Through Its Food And Traditional Dresses

Sikkim is the land of diverging cultures and traditional practices which co-exist and they are all combined to be known as Sikkimese.

Sikkim Traditional Dresses and Foods

Its Origin and culture

The major constituents of Sikkim’s early population were comprised of three major tribal groups. The Lepcha, The Bhutia’s and The Nepalis. Due to this unique distribution, the state of Sikkim has equally large celebrations during Hindu festivals, Buddhist festivals. The Nepali speaking community is hugely Hindu’s, the Lepchas are mostly Christians due to the huge inflow of Buddhist missionaries during the 19th century and finally, the Bhutias follow Buddhism.

Sikkim has been able to celebrate its rich cultural heritage and traditions homogeneously. The Sikkimese still practices their traditional sports of archery and can be seen aiming the targets in their traditional dresses. Each part of Sikkim has some unique traits for which you need to stay with the locals or around locals which are also included in some of the Sikkim tour packages. To reach Sikkim you must board a cab from Siliguri first. It is advisable to check out few local tour and travel operator in Siliguri to compare prices.

Traditional Dresses of Sikkim

Let us have a look at the traditional dresses worn by the major constitutional tribes of Bhutia, Lepcha, and Nepali.

Bhutia – The tribe was actually of Tibetan origin and they moved to Sikkim’s northern parts during the 16th century. The tribes today are categorized as Lachenpas and Lachungpas. They are considered Sikkimese and no longer a Tibetan inhabitant. Their Bhutia culture and their dresses are also unique on its own.

Let us see the traditional dress of Bhutia males:

  • The males wear waistcoats known as jya jya.
  • The male shirt is known as Yenthatse.
  • A cloth belt is known as Kera.
  • Their traditional cap is known as Shambo.
  • Their trousers are usually loose

Let us see what do the females of this tribe wear:

  • The traditional wear is known as Bakhu
  • The full sleeved blouse is known as Hanju.
  • A multi-colored designed and woolen cloth is known as Pangden.
  • Kushen a jacket

Lepcha – The race of these tribes are supposed to have their own dynasty, own King, own Priests, own languages and also developed their own dresses. The Top 3 Lepcha designs which are usually used for the men’s dresses are Tagaap, Tamblyoak, and Khemchu.

  • It is the primary outfit of the Lepcha community.
  • A white pajama stretching up till the calves
  • Yenthatse, a kind of a Lepcha shirt
  • An embroidered cap Shambo
  • Dumpra or a multicolored cloth placed upon the shoulders and held by the waistband.
  • Thyaktuk is the headgear which is made of bamboo canes are worn during ceremonies.

Let us see what the females have to wear:

Lepcha dress
Image Courtesy :
  • They wear a garment known as Dumvam.
  • A loose fitting blouse is known as Tago
  • A belt is known as Nyamrek
  • Taro a cap is worn.
  • The scarf is known as Gorey usually used to cover their heads.

Nepali: The Nepali from Nepal constitutes major population of the state of Sikkim. About 60 percent of the people here are Sikkimese. There are two different dresses for men as well as women, let us have a look:

Nepali men wear

  • Daura- It is a traditional variant of Kurta. It has eight strings in it.
  • Sural- It is a comfortable trouser

Nepali women wear

Nepali women wear - Traditional Dress
Image Courtesy: Flickr

• Choubandi is the traditional blouse which is put on with a sari.
• Made of cotton.
• Red and white stripes mixed in a Nepali traditional color used frequently.
• Several kinds of Nepali women have some distinct traits of dressing.

Where To Buy Traditional Dresses Of Sikkim Them

In Sikkim, there are many things that you can buy as souvenirs. The tour of Sikkim must be an everlasting experience and what better way to preserve it by taking home a traditional dress of any of the major tribes who live here. You have a variety of options to choose from.

There are Traditional shops around Sikkim who sell you Traditional dresses and some unique souvenirs, which can be taken back.

M.G MARG – The capital of Sikkim has nice pavements for its people to just take a walk across a series of shops that are lined along the pavements. Here, you shall find everything that you may be looking for. There is just one thing you must do, that is a bargain.

LAL BAZAR– The roof of the Lal Bazaar roof provide a beautiful sight of Gangtok and the markets below it provide you the best colors and types of Traditional dresses, you would have ever imagined. Visit them to believe them.

Some Traditional Food Of Sikkim You Must Try With Your Traditional Dress On

The rich culture of Sikkim also has some interesting food culture which has been passed on from the neighboring kingdoms, long time ago. While some delicacies have been here with the people and they are still sold today with their taste clearly upholding the history behind the food culture of Sikkim.

Here are some of the major dishes which you should never miss

  • Gyathuk- Traditional noodle in soup with vegetables or meat.
  • Momo– Famous dumplings but there is some change of ingredients you should find out as a momo lover.
  • Sale roti – Roughly translated as fox bread, these are crispy, homemade, round shaped bread which is famous at many fast food outlets across the State.
  • Sha-Faley – If you loved bread even when it is fried in oil and never say no to meat, This meat stuffing inside the bread is a delicacy which shall be favorite fast food items to be cherished.
  • Gundruk – These are traditionally dried leaves of cabbage or radish which are boiled with some onions and tomato to prepare a sour soup which is good for your body metabolism.

These are enough reasons to visit Sikkim on your next holiday. Someone rightly said that you have to eat like the locals, wear like the locals and live like the locals to feel like locals. So even if swapping lives with the people of Sikkim isn’t an option, you could at least live like them for a couple of days. Your Sikkim story will be a fulfilling experience.

The Culture Of Sikkim Through Its Food And Traditional Dresses
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The Culture Of Sikkim Through Its Food And Traditional Dresses
Traditional dresses and garments of Sikkim are still fashionable. Let us have a look at the traditional dresses worn by the major constitutional tribes of Bhutia, Lepcha, and Nepali.
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Eastern India Holidays
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