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Research at the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology

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The Sikkim Video Archive

Established in 2003, this visual anthropology project aims to produce a documented video record of Sikkim’s vanishing indigenous Buddhist cultures. Its primary purpose is to record and preserve the meaning and performance of Sikkim’s domestic and monastic rituals within their social and economic contexts. Considering the interconnection of village life, it was thought important to provide the social and historic contexts within which these rituals are being held so these may be better understood and appreciated. Thus, the social institutions and oral histories of the communities and individuals involved are equally recorded and documented.

The video record is produced with and for the indigenous communities and is preserved, catalogued and documented in its original format at the Institute for future generations and research use. From this archival material, a series of thematic films is being edited for viewing both in Sikkim and at international ethnographic film festivals worldwide.

Tingvong: A Lepcha Village in Sikkim (2005)

Cham in the Lepcha Village of Lingthem (2007)

Cham in the Sikkimese Village of Phensang (2009)

Ongdala: The Initiation of a Young Monk (2010)

Chap Chu: Sacred Spring Ritual (2011) 

Ritual Journeys (2011)

Bumchu: The Sacred Water Vase Ritual of Tashiding (2012)

Grazing on the Border: The Yak Herders of North Sikkim (nearing completion)

This project is being carried out by Dr Anna Balikci-Denjongpa, Research Coordinator, NIT, together with cinematographers/Research Assistants Dawa Tshering Lepcha and Phurba Tshering Bhutia