Gangtok, August 25, 2019:
Mt Kanchenjunga in Sikkim, the ‘holy peak’, which has been worshipped by the locals for centuries, is now among the 137 mountain peaks of the country which have been declared open for expedition by the Union ministry of home affairs (MHA).
While the announcement has put the third highest mountain in the world on the global map, the news has clearly questioned the sentiments of the Sikkimese people and shaken the local organisations and stakeholders in the state. The people of Sikkim stand together in not accepting the notification and reaching out to the state government to maintain the sacredness of the peak.
Kanchenjunga was first scaled on May 25, 1955 by Joe Brown and George Band, who were part of a British expedition. They stopped short of the summit in accordance with the promise given to the ‘Chogyal’, that the top of the mountain would remain intact. Every climber or climbing group that has reached the summit has followed this tradition.
Chogyals are the monarchs of the former kingdoms of Sikkim and Ladakh in present-day India, which were ruled by separate branches of the Namgyal dynasty.
The people of Sikkim worship Mt Kanchenjunga as their guardian deity. It is believed that the ‘mountain god’ played an active role in introducing Buddhism into this former kingdom. There is one-day festival called ‘Pang Lhabsol’ celebrated here seeking the ‘mountain god’ to continue protecting Sikkim.
The festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the 7th month of the Tibetan calendar corresponding to late August/early September. The ‘chaams’, which are part of this festival, are unique and the spectacular Pangtoed or warrior dance was choreographed by the third Chogyal Chador Namgyal, which is said to have appeared to him in a vision. The festival also marks the commemoration of blood brotherhood sworn between the Lepchas and the Bhutias at Kabi in the 15th century.
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