The unconquerable Mt. Khangchendzonga | Pang Lhabsol | Sikkim

The unconquerable Mt. Khangchendzonga | Pang Lhabsol | Sikkim


At Tsuklakhang in Gangtok, senior monks have gathered to perform a special ritual to invoke the blessings of Mt. Khangchendzonga, a guardian deity revered by the indigenous communities of Sikkim. Nature worship is pivotal to the religious and cultural practices of Sikkim Peaks, trees, rocks, caves, springs,
waterfalls and lakes are held sacred by local communities such as the Lepchas and Bhutias throughout the state insomuch that they have adopted the
landscape as their cultural identity. Mount Khangchendzonga, the 3rd highest mountain in the world, plays an important role in all the communities of Sikkim. For instance, the Lepchas, one of the ethnic communities in Sikkim, believe that their ancestors were created from the snows of the peaks summit. In several of their rituals, upright stones called lunchuk, symbolic of the mountain, are used to invoke the gods and appease the spirits. In Buddhism, Sikkim is known as Beyul Demajong Suhim— a place that is blessed by Guru Rinpoche and its guardian deity- Mount Khangchendzonga. Every year on the 15th day of the Tibetan lunar calendar, people across the state come together to pray to the sacred mountain in a festival called Pang Lhabsol. The festival also commemorates the Treaty of Brotherhood among the Lepchas and Bhutias, which was witnessed by the local deities. According to legend, in the 13th century, King Sakya of Tibet greatly impressed by Bhutia chief Khay Bhumsa’s heroism and super human strength married his daughter Choma Guru with him, who after marriage, settled in Chumbi Valley. Years passed but they could not beget any offspring. So after seeking permission of the lamas, Khay Bhumsa and his wife decided to come to Sikkim and meet with God incarnated Lepcha chief Thekong Tek, seeking blessings for a child. Consequently three sons were born to
them. After the birth of their first son they took the baby to Thekong Tek to express their gratitude, which made the Lepcha chief very happy. To continue this friendship among the Lepchas and the Bhutias, Khay Bhumsa and Thekong Tek took the oath of blood brotherhood. To seal this oath, Thekong Tek erected nine stones on the ground facing Mount Khangchendzonga at Kabilunchok, near Gangtok, tied animal intestines around them, and both the chiefs dipped their feet in the blood of the animals. This historical event was witnessed by the sacred Mount Khangchendzonga and other deities and genies residing there. This oath-taking ceremony was called Pang Lhabsol, and with the passage of time it assumed the status of an important festival. At the monastery, monks recite the text of Guru Rinpoche called Neysol, which is followed by the “shaylen,” the oral oath of protection. This is succeeded by dance performances, starting off with the “Pangtoed chaam” or warrior dance choreographed by the third Chogyal of Sikkim Chakdor Namgyal. A riveting moment during these performances conjures itself when a jinda dressed up as the deity Mt. Khangchendzonga enacts the scene where Dzonga is defeating his enemies. Decked in an elaborate brocade dress and a mask ringed by five human skulls, the dancer’s movements take the audience on an emotional journey of conflict and victory. The celebration finally ends with “dzongkhor,” the victory song. Whether it’s owing to cultural, religious, or environmental reasons or a culmination of them all, the Khangchendzonga has been able to withstand every threat from commercialization

2 thoughts on “The unconquerable Mt. Khangchendzonga | Pang Lhabsol | Sikkim”

Leave a Reply