Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Sigh Tamang on January 22 extended his warm greetings to the people of the state on the occasion of 'Sonam Lochar' which marks the start of the Tamang new year.
"I wish for good health and prosperity for all and I hope the day signifies the start of a successful year and brings great opportunities for everyone.
The festival of Sonam Lochhar reaffirms our faith in the almighty as we worship and offer fresh harvests seeking the protection and safety of our fellow beings,'' said Chief Minister on the occasion.
The day is celebrated by offering prayers at monasteries and homes and visits to elders of the family to receive blessings.
On this occasion, a traditional dance named Tamang Selo is performed with great gusto in colourful, traditional clothes which are meant to signify the culture, religion, and tradition of the Tamang community.
The word Lochar means New Year or the beginning of a new era and Sonam Lochar is the Tamang New Year.
Tamangs are the indigenous people of Sikkim and they achieved tribal status 20 years back the present Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang also belongs to the same community. They have their own culture and dialects which distinguish them from other ethnic groups.
Tamangs divide their years into 12 cycles, each represented by a zodiac animal, following the same order as Lunar New Year. In Nepal when there was no calendar, the 12-rotation system was used to calculate peoples' ages.
Like other communities, the Tamangs celebrate their new year festival with great joy and religious fervor which lasts for five to fifteen days from place to place.
On this day people clean and decorate their houses to welcome the new year. In the new year, they will visit monasteries and stupas in their traditional costumes. Buddhist monks perform masked dances and rituals to drive away negative forces and bring positivity to the family and the people.
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