BUDDHIST FESTIVAL SIKKIM 2014
The Namgyal Institute of Tibetology organized a three day Buddhist Festival Sikkim 2014 –Boudh Mahotsav - from 16th to 18th September, 2014 under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, New Delhi. The festival was not only a learning experience but also a pronounced success, with a large number of people from all walks of life turning out to witness the festival.
The NIT has long been a centre of excellence for Buddhist studies in India and had organized a number seminars, symposiums and workshops on Buddhism. Bur it is for the first time that the institute hosted a festival of this kind.
The three day Buddhist festival was inaugurated by Shri Garjaman Gurung Hon’ble Minister for Cultural Affairs and Heritage Department, Government of Sikkim, as Chief Guest on 16th September. Smt. Nalini G. Pradhan, Secretary, Department of Cultural Affairs and Heritage Department was also present on the occasion. Among others present at the inaugural function were Shri Ethenpa Secretary, Department of Science and Technology, Government of Sikkim, Mr Tsegyal Tashi, Secretary, Sikkim Nationalised Transport, Shri Akshay Sachdev, IG, Law & Order, Shri Sonam Gyatso Additional Director, Ecclesiastical Affairs Department, Government of Sikkim. Mr C.K. Dorji, Director, Press Information Bureau, Government of India also attended the function. Princess Hope Leezum, a number of State government officials and retired senior officials of the Government of Sikkim, Founder members of the NIT, Ex-MLAs, local gentry, students and tourists gathered at the NIT to witness the festival.
After opening of the exhibits of the various tangible Buddhist aspects, the Chief Guest along with the Deputy Sectary to the Government of India, Shri Sarvesh Kumar Arya lit the ceremonial lamp and released the Brochure of the festival.
The three day festival was a great success with people, both locals and tourists, thronging the area to see the Cham Dance and other cultural shows from different Indian states as well as the exhibitions of the NIT Museum and Thangka Painting on the ground floor of the main building of the Institute together with Butter Sculpture, Sand Mandala, Ritual Chant conducted by the various monasteries of Sikkim on the first floor of the building. The Sowa Rigpa exhibition and free medical consultation were the main highlights of the three day festival.
While the NIT museum artifacts were showpieces of the festival, the displays of various raw materials used for Thangka Painting in the olden days were worth learning through seeing. The Master Artist explained the traditional method of application of material. For many visitors, the exhibition enriched their knowledge on the basics of the art of thangka painting.
The Pemayangtse monastery conducted Ritual Chants of the Rigzin Sordup Tshog offering. This ritual is mainly conducted to ward off negativities and to enhance virtues. It is also beneficial to the welfare of all sentient beings. The Ritual Chant was accompanied by various religious instruments including beating of Zang Nga, a pair of copper drums. This is an age old tradition.
Karma Thupten Tashi Choeling Monastery, North Sikkim, popularly known as Phodong monastery, presented a colourful Butter Sculpture depicting Choe-lung-Trul Sum (Buddha Sakyamuni, Avalokitesvara and Guru Padmasambhava), symbolizing three kayas and various other offering objects like eight auspicious signs and eight auspicious objects made of butter.
The Sa Ngor Chotshog Centre, Gangtok exhibited a Sand Mandala depicting Celestial Mansion of Vairocana. Vairocana belongs to the Yogacarya Tantra and this ritual is conducted for both living and deceased person to remove suffering and to ultimately attain Buddhahood.
These traditional Buddhist arts exhibited during the festival were well appreciated by locals and tourists both domestic and foreign visiting the NIT.
The cultural program of the festival started with Senge Dance (Snow Lion Dance), which is considered auspicious for initiating any event. This was followed by Shanag Cham (Black Hat Dance), signifying subjugation of negative forces and the folkdances of different states of India.
While Sowa Rigpa (CUTS – Central University of Tibetan Studies) displayed various medicinal plants, thangkas and ancient healing techniques, they also examined some 80 patients on the first day of the festival and provided one month’s free medicines.
The first day of the festival was well received by the people visiting the NIT.
While the exhibition of the NIT Museum, Thangka Painting, Butter Sculpture, Sand Mandala and Lama Chant continued to attract a large number of visitors, the Sowa Rigpa Professor gave a health talk on the topic Introduction of Sowa Rigpa. In addition to locals and tourists, the NIT invited students from various schools to participate in the three day festival.
The Hon’ble Governor of Sikkim, Shri Shrinivas Patil, who is also the President of the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, graced the festival with his presence in the afternoon of the second day of the festival. The Hon’ble Governor was escorted around the exhibits of the festival. He took keen interest in the exhibition of Sand Mandala and other exhibits.
After visiting the various exhibitions, Prof. (Dr) Lobsang Samten checked the pulse of the Hon’ble Governor who interacted with the Doctor on Tibetan medicine and its effectiveness.
The Hon’ble Governor was then escorted to the cultural programme. He witnessed Senge Dance and folk dances of different states such as Uttarkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh and cultural performances of Sikkimese Bhutia, Lepcha and Nepali dances. He enjoyed and appreciated the programme. The Hon’ble Governor spent around two hours at the NIT and took group photos with the troupes.
In the absence of the cultural troupes of Zonal Cultural Centres of Chattisgarh and Gujarat, the local NGOs were invited to perform Lepcha, Bhutia, Nepali and Tibetan dances. The gathering of the people on the second day was much larger than the first day.
The valedictory function of the three day Buddhist Festival was attended by Shri Ugyen Gyatso Bhutia, Hon’ble Minister for Tourism & Civil Aviation, Government of Sikkim, as the Chief Guest. The function was also attended by Mr. C. Zangpo, Secretary to the Government of Sikkim, Tourism and Civil Aviation Department, Mr Jigme Barfungpa, Additional Secretary, Labour Department, Government officials, local gentry, students and tourists.
After visiting the Buddhist exhibitions, the Hon’ble Minister witnessed the cultural performances of the troupes from five different states of India and Sikkim. The Chief Guest presented the certificates of participation to the participant teams and scarves to all the participants.
On the third day of the festival, a talk of Sowa Rigpa on Stay Healthy through Sowa Rigpa had a large number of gathering followed by a question-answer session.
During the three day festival, the Sowa Rigpa team provided a yeoman service by examining over 250 patients and providing one month’s medicine free of cost.
The Deputy Director of the NIT, Ms Kelsang Choden proposed a Vote of Thanks. In her vote of thanks, she thanked the participant monasteries of Sikkim for showcasing various tangible and intangible aspects of Buddhist art and culture, Zonal Cultural Centres of different states of India for folk dances, Cultural Affairs & Heritage Department, Govt. of Sikkim for Senge Dance, Traditional Art School under the Ecclesiastical Affairs Department for exhibition of Thangka painting, Central University of Tibetan Studies (CUTS) for exhibition, free medical consultation and Health Talk), NGOs, the Department of Power & Energy and PHE for uninterrupted supply of electricity and water, Police Department for security. She also thanked Doordarshan, Nayuma Cable, Print & Social Media for wide coverage of the festival.
The Deputy Director appreciated the NIT staff for their many days of tireless effort for making the festival a grand success.
The three day festival organized by the NIT under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India was a great success in all respect and was well received and appreciated by the locals and tourists visiting the NIT.
With the blessings of the Buddha and the Triple Gem, the weather in Gangtok which had been continuously rainy and cloudy prior to the festival, cleared on the inaugural day. The weather remained clear with ample sunshine throughout the three day period of the festival which encouraged many locals and tourists to attend the festival. Incidentally the weather condition worsened immediately after the festival, a surprising phenomenon indeed.
PRIME MINISTER’S SWACHH BHARAT ABHIYAN AT NAMGYAL INSTITUTE OF TIBETOLOGY, GANGTOK, SIKKIM
The Namgyal Institute of Tibetology is not only a centre for Buddhist studies, it is also a place of worship. The Institute is unique among its kind, with various collections of statues and images of Buddhist deities as well as serving as a central repository of the collective knowledge of all four sects of Mahayana Buddhism and Bon religion. Hence, for believers, this place is as equally important and sacred as any other place of worship. Situated amidst a forested and tranquil natural environment, the NIT has always endeavored to make the Institute premises a blissful, quiet, serene and clean sanctuary for peace seekers.
The Namgyal Institute of Tibetology is also a prime place for visits of VVIPs, and tourists, both domestic and foreign, visiting Gangtok. The place, being of such an importance, the NIT maintains cleanliness throughout the year. At times, we hire extra hands to clean the premises.
As per the directives of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, received via an email dated 24th September, 2014 to clean India under the cleanliness drive under Prime Minister’s Swachh Bharat (Clean India) Mission 25 September, 2014 to 2019, the NIT employees undertook a massive cleaning drive on the mornings of the 26th and 30th September, 2014. Placard, both in Hindi and English, were posted all over the premises exhorting all to maintain cleanliness around the area.
As for the NIT Museum, prior to holding of three day festival from 16-18 September, 2014, all the artifacts displayed in the museum such as statues, thangkas, ritual objects, old manuscripts etc were thoroughly cleaned.
The NIT will endeavour to keep its premises clean and green throughout.