Changu: On the occasion of Bhadaurey Purnima, the full moon falling on the lunar month of Bhadra, shamans from different parts of Sikkim assembled for shamanic rituals at the holy Changu lake in Pakyong district.
The one-day event, which has been carried out at the lake since ancient times, was converted into the Bhadaurey Purnima festival. The event had the attendance of state forest minister Karma Loday Bhutia as the chief guest along with other forest officials. The event was organized by the Changu Lake Conservation Society.
Changu Lake is located at an elevation of 12,310 feet, some 35 km away from Gangtok towards the Nathula border. The festival made a comeback after two years of COVID-19 hiatus.
Shaman Amrita Biswakarma shared, “Today is auspicious because, through the month of Sawan, the gods and goddess stay in caves. Today being the full moon, all the gods and goddesses are awakened and taken to places of worship, where they shower us with blessings. Changu lake is very pure, other places are very dirty. Since ancient times, this has been a place where gods and goddesses reside, we get a blessing when we do the rituals.”
Ancient folklore from Changu says there was a village in the middle of the lake, where a lot of sins were carried out. It is said there was an elderly lady shaman who warned the people of the village about the lake being formed. She urged the people to evacuate. But the sinful didn’t believe her and they were swept and drowned by the lake. That is why there is great belief among shamans to visit here, shared the Shaman.
“There is little belief in shamanic rituals in today. But despite that, it’s an ancient practice, which I make people understand. We try to heal those that come with sickness through our shamanic practices,” shared Biswakarma.
Another Shaman, YB Thapa shared, “I have been coming here since the age of 11; I had taken shamanic practice since I was 7 years old. When I was 11, there were no vehicles, we had to walk there. It used to take us 2 days to reach here to do rituals. There was no temple back then, we had to go across the lake to the opposite bank. Now, due to the temple, it is much easier for many elderly and children who were unable to go across the bank earlier.”
Changu Lake Conservation Society, locally called the Tsomgo Pokhari Sanghrangshak Samiti, works under the State forest department. Over the last 14 years, the society has been carrying out conservation measures at Changu lake through waste management, lake protection from siltation, and open defecation awareness activities in the lake premises and surrounding areas.
The Bhadaurey Purnima celebration has been a calendar event for the society.
“The festival was lost for a few years when road widening activities were carried out along the Highway leading to the Nathula border. It was mismanaged and the festival was lost. It has been our achievement to revive the festival with the invitation to the public. In terms of conservation, the society also looks after research recovery management system,” said Sangay Sherpa, office secretary, hangu Lake Conservation Society.
The event also had various other cultural programmes, which were witnessed by gathering inclusive of forest officials, local officials from Pakyong district and followers of shamans and the local public.
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