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Norwegian Org. no.



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 The Rumtek monastery in Sikkim:
Tibetan New Year

 The lamas are wearing different colourful
masks and beautiful costumes.

 Visiting Sikkim - text and photo:
Gunnar Christensen

The Rumtek monastery at 2000 meters high up in the Sikkim mountains in India is one of the most attractive places you can celebrate the Tibetan new year today. But watch up! The Tibetan celebrations are very different from ours in many ways. If you want to celebrate Tibetan New Year then you have to wait until the 27th of February. But the celebration starts tree days earlier.

Where is Sikkim? It's a small part of north India on the Tibetan boarder between Nepal and Buthan. Sikkim was once a kingdom of its own with the capital Gangtok. Now it's a part of India.

The colourful Rumtek monastery is the residence of the high Tibetan lama called Karmapa and his crew of monks. New year celebration is the summit of the year at this monastery: The lama dances starts: Symbolic the lamas are cleaning the area before the New Year to come. Al masks used in the dances have different symbols: They are helping the great Mahakala in the ceremony.

The high Tibetan lama 16 th.Karmapa

To the sound of the traditional Tibetan instruments dominated by big thunder drums, different kinds of trumpets and the long radonges, the lamas are wearing different colourful masks and beautiful costumes. The monks playing the instruments are sitting in front of the monastery with beautiful costumes in red and yellow. Their instruments have beautiful decorations in silver and gold. The music is very strange to western ears.

People crowd around the area before the monastery where the dances takes place most of the day all three days. More people are coming every day making the last day of celebration very crowded. Many local political leaders and even the royalty from Buthan are present as guests this year, witch indicates the influence and political power of the high lama Karmapa.

The first day of the celebration, the monks and lamas dance without masks. Different groups of monks up to hundred monks in each are dancing for hours. Every day the dance starts at 10 in the morning. The dancers take a break for dinner at 5 p.m.

The second day the masks are on: You se animal heads, bird heads and devil masks beautifully made and coloured. Symbolic these are the workers cleaning all bad actions of all kinds out of the place for the New Year to come.

You se animal heads, bird heads and devil
masks beautifully made and coloured.

The third day the big butter figure 6 meters high of the dramatic Mahakala is placed in the centre of the dances. The dances circle around this figure. This figure is burned when the danced end in the afternoon. Tibetan laypeople believe that part of the burning figure gives them blessings, and they are eager to get their part as the flames eat up the figure. That's a problem to the monks who are trying to keep the laymen away from the flames to avoid accidents.

New years day is celebrated inside this beautiful monastery temple called the Gumpa decorated with thankas and beautiful wall paintings and a lot of traditional Tibetan food. This big ceremony goes on led by His Holiness Karmapa and his 350 Rinproches, lames and monks placed according to their rank in the Tibatan temple. The laypeople and pilgrims are crowding up to the high lama Karmapa to get his blessing after the ceremony and they bring him their white khadaes for geetings.

The children monks enjoys visitors.

After four days of celebration the monks rest for seven days.

If there is a tradition to wish something for the New Year among Tibetans in India and all over the world I'm sure they all wish to go back to a free and independent Tibet.

Tibet has been occupied by Chinese troops since 1950.

H. H. Dalai Lama the political and religions leader of the Tibetan people won the Nobel Peace Price in 1989. Behind Dalai Lama stands a great, non-violent and peaceful culture with a high spiritual and moral level.

A culture we need to take care of in the world today. Not only for the sake of the Tibetans, but for our own sake: Too many high peace loving cultures through the history of mankind has been lost. We can't afford to loose the Tibetan culture.

Films about the Tibetan Culture:

The History of Dalai Lama"

Brad Pitt:
"Seven years in Tibet"

  Keanu Reeves, Bridget Fona,
Chris Isaak:

"Little Buddha"

 The new Karmapa:

 Dalai Lama:



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If you want to celebrate Tibetan New Year then you have to wait until the 27th of February.

4 - 2019