Pang Lhabsol is a festival that is unique to Sikkim. It falls on the 15th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar. The Sikkimese people have always had a very deep link with nature. Our forefather’s were nature worshippers. Mt. Khangchendzonga , the 3rd highest peak in the world is considered as our guardian deity. On Pang Lhabsol, Khangchendzonga is invoked as the war deity of Sikkim, and along with other deities of Sikkim, is called upon to witness the reiteration of the faith of the people of Sikkim.
Rabong Monastery at Dusk
Monks on the way to watch Volleyball
Early Morning : Monks on the way to watch Volleyball
The Monk Dance
Chaam: The Warrior Dance

On this day , the Pangtoed Chaam, or warrior dance is performed. The Pangtoed warriors represent the warriors of Khangchendzonga. The third Chogyal of Sikkim , Chador Namgyal choreographed the Chaam from a dream that appeared to him.

Rabong, a small place in Sikkim has been celebrating Pang Lhabsol for the past 25 years, prior to Rabong the Chaam was performed at Tsuklakhang at Gangtok. Being the silver jublee year, the festival this year was celebrated with much grandeur, and had been accorded the status of State Function.

I reached Rabong on 14th Sept, and straight away went to the Gumpa complex, where cultural competitions were being held. Dance troupes from all over Sikkim had come with their presentations. It was a great show with young kids performing the Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha and Tibetan dances. A confluence of various cultures, which is what Sikkim, is all about. The highlight of the Pang Lhabsol celebration is the Volleyball tournament, with teams from across the country participating. We had a great time watching the matches. During the evening, there was a musical program by a group from Siliguri at the market place. The next day we reached the Gumpa complex as early as 6.45 am, as we had been advised by the locals that the Chaam or Warrior dance would begin at 7. But when we reached there was no one except for the monks and the volleyball players who had to complete their semifinal match which was stopped the day before due to bad light. In spite of being born and brought up in Sikkim , I had never had an opportunity to watch the chaam. It was truly a great experience. Monks with their mask and colourful costumes performing dance steps which has been passed on from many centuries. A truly enthralling experience. After the chaam got over , there were some more cultural activities , with dancers from Manipur and Bhutan performing. I could not stay back for the Volleyball final or the evening show , where artist form Mumbai were performing, as I had to be back to work the next day. But it was a great weekend.

Volleyball Match under progress
Volleyball match under progress

7 thoughts on “Pang-Lhabsol

  1. Will you look at the folds of the blue mountains! Amazing. Nice photographs. Maybe you should enter in the second round of Weekly contest 🙂

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