Indra Jatra or “Yenya” is the biggest festival for the Nepalese “NEWAR” community in Sikkim and is celebrated with much fanfare throughout the state. Named after the Hindu God of Rain and also the King of Heaven, Lord Indra, the festival’s prime objective is to seek his blessings in the form of rains and showers. Huge chariot processions accompanied with eclectic drum beats, masked dance performances and various classical dance performances are the integral elements of this vibrant festival that takes the streets of Gangtok in great awe of its cultural harmony. Needless to say, for cultural aficionadas, sociologists and anthropologists, this is one of the best times to plan their trip to Sikkim and other parts of North East.
The festival’s most significant highlight is marked by a huge procession that is taken along the streets of Gangtok after performing various religious rituals at Bhanu Park. A number of masked dance performances including Pulu Kishi, Lakhey, Mahakali and Sawa Bhaku along the pageant provide for an enchanting sight to all the spectators. One of the yet another much awaited events of the Indra Jatra Festival is the ‘Kumari Jatra’ where in the living Goddess ‘Kumari’, an incarnation of Goddess ‘Telaju’ is taken out on a procession in a chariot. People gather in huge numbers to have a glimpse of the Kumari, thereby receiving her blessings for a happy and blissful life.
The extravagant cultural fiesta of Indra Jatra is celebrated around August-September and lasts for eight days, bringing the whole valley to life with vibrancy and mood of festivity all around. Cultural programs, chariot processions and masked dance performances representing various deities and demons, take everyone in awe of their hypnotizing splendour.
More than 250 Newars from different parts of Sikkim attended the 1st Sikkim Newar Youth Convention 2019 hosted at Nepali Dharamsala, Singtam on February 24, 2019. The theme of the Convention was “An Insight: Past, Present and Future of Newars of Sikkim. Ten Youth Icons from Sikkim Newar community was felicitated on the occasion. Dentam Sakha and Bowneykutti, Singtam Sakha was declared Best Sakha and Best Upcoming Sakha of Sikkim for the year 2018-2019.
The meet draw attention to sensitize youths towards Newa’s rich culture and tradition. Unity of Sikkim Newars for its further development was the focus of the day. The lecturers presented on the day highlighted to look upon the solution of the problems faced by the Newars of Sikkim.
The second issue of PAU, magazine based on Newa culture and tradition was released by the Chief Guest and other guests. DK Pradhan, President, Sikkim Newar Guthi was the Chief Guest of the day long program. Other distinguished guests included Mahendra Pradhan (Treasurer, SNG), Udai Pradhan, (Assistant General Secretary), Ganesh Pradhan, Retired Director Accounts and Administrative Training Centre, Dr. Sushen Pradhan, (Secretary, Sikkim Newar Youth Affair), Jas Lal Pradhan, boxing legend and President, Gangtok Zone, HN Pradhan, Vice President, BBCTV, Dilip Kr. Pradhan, Vice President, BBCTV and others. Also present at the event was Newa teachers serving at different Government School.
Important talks on different subject matter of Newars were discussed. Bikash Pradhan, Coordinator Newa Language, HRDD, Government of Sikkim spoked about the significance of Newar Language and Culture. He talked about different work done at language and culture in Sikkim. Ganesh Pradhan, Retired Director Accounts and Administrative Training Centre in his address emphasized on the contribution of Newar in the Development of Sikkim. His talk was a historic-review that included the origin of Newars of Sikkim to its present position.
The eleven felicitated Newa Youths represented different fields of press media, modelling, film making, fashion, sports and others. Those winners included; Nitesh Pradhan, Saloni Pradhan, Saphal Pradhan, Akhilesh Pradhan, Bhawika Pradhan, Aadarsh Pradhan, Rabina Pradhan, Prerna Pradhan, Rabina Pradhan, Jharna Pradhan and Niha Pradhan. D.K. Pradhan, President, Sikkim Newar Guthi spoked about the Position of Newar in Sikkim. His speech was reflected with relative statistics shown on screen through power-point presentation. Mahindra Pradhan, Treasurer, Sikkim Newar Guthi in his speech spoked on Role of Youth in the Community and Community Association where he emphasized on community participation for united Newars of Sikkim. Dr. Sushen Pradhan, Secretary, Sikkim Newar Youth Affair, the last speaker of the day spoked about the activities of the Sikkim Newar Youth Affairs after its establishment in 2017. He unfolded different plans to improve the sustainability of different Newar populations through commercialization of Newa items. Shital Pradhan and Binod Pradhan from Bowneykutti, Singtam Sakha gave the welcome speech and the vote of thanks.
It is post harvest festival of worshipping the newly brought rice and Annapurna, the goddess of grains, for good harvest. Yomari Punhi lends its name from Yomari (a typical steamed cake of rice flour dough stuffed with a mixture of sesame and molasses), which is offered in Dhukoo (store room) and eaten on this day. In the evening kids go around the neighborhood to beg Yomari.