Sikkim is the land of Buddhism where a number of festivals are celebrated to pay homage to Lord Buddha and to appease the local gods and deities. Lhabab Duchen is also one amongst these religious festivals that celebrates the auspicious event when Lord Buddha is believed to have ascended back on earth after preaching his ideologies and ways to attain salvation from the worldly desires in the “Heaven of Thirty Three Gods”, an important world where devas dwell according to the Hindu and Buddhist mythology.
For many travellers with an interest in Buddhist mythology, Lhabab Duchen Festival certainly makes for the best time to visit Sikkim in order to gain a profound insight into the religion’s unique practices, traditions and beliefs.
On the sacred day of Lhabab Duchen, followers of Buddhism throng to monasteries to light butter lamps, burn incense and offer special prayers to Lord Buddha; monks and lamas spend whole day reading the holy scriptures and purifying the air with their chanting of mantras. An important highlight of this holy festival is marked by placing freshly painted ladders on the rocks by the monasteries to symbolize holy descent of Buddha from Trayastrimsa (The Heaven of Thirty Three).
The celebrations for Lhabab Duchen are held on 22nd day of the 9th month of Tibetan Lunar Calendar i.e. somewhere around November as per English Calendar. Devotees and pilgrims congregate in various monasteries across the state on this day to pay their reverence, seeking blessings of the lord. As per Buddhist mythological beliefs, the effect of all positive or negative actions committed on this sacred day gets multiplied 10 million times, therefore, people try to engage themselves in prayers and other virtuous activities throughout the day.
According to Buddhist mythological records, it is said that at the age of 41, Lord Buddha realized that his mother, Queen Mahamaya, who had already died was still stuck in the worldly desires at a place called Trayastrimsa or “The Heaven of Thirty Three”. To help her attain salvation and to preach his spiritual ideologies to the devas dwelling in the heaven, he descends from earth and after spending about three months in the heaven, returns back with the help of a gold, beryl & silver ornamented stairway specially crafted for him by the Hindu God of Machines, Vishwakarma. This auspicious event is regarded as one of the eight great deeds of Buddha and is celebrated in the form of Lhabab Duchen Festival every year across all Buddhist nations and regions.