The ‘Lepcha and Bhutia New Year’ is also known as ‘The Farmer’s New Year in Sikkim. ‘The Lepcha New Year’ is also known as ‘Losoong’ and ‘The Bhutia New Year’ is locally known as the ‘Namsoong’. This festival marks the end of the harvest season and it is seen that the farmers thank God for the good harvest in the present year and pray for better harvest in the coming year. This Festival is celebrated with full pomp and show and is known to ward off the evil spirits and welcome the New Year. Ancient rituals, stage fights between good and evil, chanting holy chants and passing through the crowds with fire torches are all a part of celebration during the ‘Lepcha and Bhutia New Year’. People wear colorful masks and costumes participate in folk dances on the streets. This festival is considered to be a family festival with full of music, dance fun and feast.
The farmers celebrate the New Year by offering their first crop to the God and ask forgiveness for whatever wrong they have done during the last year and pray God to protect them in the coming year. In every household in Sikkim, people sit together with their family and pray to the Male God by singing songs in praise of the God and the rising sun. ‘Lepcha’ and ‘Bhutia’ are two different communities who celebrate the New Year on the same day in Sikkim. This Festival improves the binding between the two communities. ‘The Lepcha and Bhutia New Year’ is a 15 day celebration in which the sixth and the seventh day are supposed to be the bad day known as ‘ Nyempo Guzom’ and people do not celebrate or start anything new during these two days. It is believed that the guardian deities undergo cleansing on these particular days and hence it is considered to be a black day. The New Year in Sikkim is marked by the famous ‘Chaam Dance’ which is signifies the victory of good. The ‘Chaam Dance’ is religious in nature and represents men as Gods. ‘Chaam Dances’ are performed at the famous Rumtek, Phodong and Tsug Lakhang monasteries.
The ‘Lepcha and Bhutia New Year’ is celebrated on the 18th day of the 10th month of the Tibetan calendar which usually falls in the month of January. The main highlight of the Festival is the traditional archery competitions where in youngsters actively participate in order to win the prize money. Another integral part of the New Year celebration is the ‘Chaang’, which is a locally produced wine. The people of Sikkim enjoy the drink and offer it to the tourists too and welcome the New Year with Great Spirit. The tourists have no restrictions in participating in the celebrations. They are even allowed to visit the ‘Gompas’ and other religious shrines to perform ‘pujas’. The people of Sikkim believe in celebrating this occasion in the right spirit hoping that they will be blessed with happiness, peace, and good health in the year to come.