With paddy fields turning golden and the advent of rice harvesting season, the residents of Lingthem village in Sikkim have concluded their annual custom of Dzo Tyuim.
It was for the first time after a gap of almost 15 years that Dzo Tyuim was celebrated as a festival on a grand scale, in collaboration with the Homestay Association of Sikkim (HAS).
The Lingthem village in Dzongu, almost a three-hour drive from Sikkim’s capital Gangtok, is home to the indigenous Lepcha community. And the Dzo Tyuim festival, which was held from 12th to 14th November, is a part of the culture and heritage of the indigenous Lepchas.
Zero-waste, no plastic and no packaged food were the main highlights of the 3-day festival. The aim of the festival was to promote tourism in Dzongu and create a sustainable economy for the community, as the place usually witnesses fewer tourists despite a massive rush in other parts of Sikkim.
The first day of Dzo Tyuim started off with the traditional call to welcome the villagers. While the adults set up their stalls with traditional works of art and indigenous food, the children engaged themselves in storytelling and folk performances.
The harvest is an occasions when villagers visit each other to help harvest rice, cut the paddy, separate them from the haystack into grains, pound and winnow them to produce the finish product of rice.
Traditionally, Dzongu is a protected land with minimal access given to non locals, while popular tourist destinations like Lachen, Lachung and Gurudongmar Lake are frequented more often by tourists as well as locals of Sikkim.
But with the festival and support shown by HAS, Dzongu is eyeing boosting tourism in Mayel Lyang, the ancestral home of the Lepchas believed to be spread across the Lepcha-dominated Dzongu villages.
With customary rituals and prayers to Mountain Kanchenjunga serving as the guardian deity, Dzongu residents welcomed the first edition of the festival with a lot of enthusiasm.
The main attraction to the Dzo Tyuim Festival was the 12 step dance to separate the rice from the paddy. Dzongu residents claimed that the culture was somehow lost over the years. They exhibited an 8-step dance involving children and elders who still remembered the traditional dance.
The festival is another way to showcase the Lepcha culture to the youngsters in the community, to familiarise them with their own tradition, understand their history.
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