Tendong Lho Rum Faat is one of the most ancient and significant festivals celebrated by the Lepcha people in Sikkim. The celebrations mark the auspicious occasion when ancestors of Lepcha tribe were saved by the holy Tendong Hill from a great deluge lasting 40 days and 40 nights. While the festival is celebrated with great fanfare throughout the state, the prime venue happens to be at Namchi, the home to this sacred hill in South of Sikkim. A trek commencing from Ravangla up to the Tendong Hill is the prime highlight of this beautiful festival and which makes as a great draw for trekkers and adventure enthusiasts too who specially travel here from parts of the nation to not only satiate their adrenaline desires but, also to soak themselves in cultural and mythological essence of the local tribal communities.
History of the Festival
According to Lepcha mythology, during the time of earth’s creation when Himalayan Range was just in its initial stage of formation, a great volcanic eruption destroyed Naho and Nather Pokh, the sources of Rivers Teesta and Rangeet, causing continuous rains for 40 days. This resulted in floods and huge loss to life and property; and the destruction of Lepcha tribe, who at that time were the prime inhabitants of earth, was nearly imminent. It is during that occasion, the Tendong Hill rose like a horn from the head of a deity and people started climbing it to get themselves saved from the havoc. From that day onwards, Lepcha people worship this holy hill, which in English translates to “the hill of the raised horn” and pay their homage to the creator who helped save their ancestors.
Duration of the Festival
Tendong Lho Rum Faat is celebrated over a span of three days in the 3rd month of the Tibetan Lunar Calendar i.e. during July-August timeframe every year. Though the festivities can be seen held across the state, a grand carnival is organized in Namchi, the administrative capital of South Sikkim and home to the sacred Tendong Hill.
People from the Lepcha community, during these three days, embark on a trek to the hill, navigating their way through dense forests and sparkling streams & rivulets.
Highlights & Important Rituals of the Festival
A trekking excursion commencing from Ravangla up to Tendong Hill is the major highlight of the Tendong Lho Rum Faat Festival. Not only Lepcha people, but, also several trekking enthusiasts, wildlife buffs and bird watchers from across the nation embark on this captivating trek that takes them through thick jungles and glistening streams and rivulets. As far as religious rituals are concerned, the tribal people build models of the Tendong Hill at the entrance of their façade and worship it seeking blessings for a happy and wealthy life.