Following their success a few days earlier at a cultural evening, a group of young amateur dancers at Gangtok in Sikkim, put on a special performance of traditional dances for visiting newsmen and tourists on Friday (21 November).
Following their success a few days earlier at a cultural evening, a group of young amateur dancers at Gangtok in Sikkim, put on a special performance of traditional dances for visiting newsmen and tourists on Friday (21 November). Like other border hill states in India, the people of Sikkim have a rich variety of folk dances which are performed in traditional costumes to the music of folk instruments.
The cultural evening, held earlier in the week, had been organised as part of the welcome celebrations for the visit of India's Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi. The young dancers had performed eight dances, beginning with one that offered a "hearty welcome" to their honoured guest and congratulated her on her recent birthday.
Among the other dances they performed were the "Boat Man's Dance", the "Harvest Dance", and the "Ugen Pasha". By the use of symbolic gestures and movements, the dances tell the stories of the village folk and the important occasions in their lives.
The "Boat Man's Dance" tells how the boatmen and their women-folk celebrate the men's return with a big catch of fish. The "Harvest Dance" expresses the villagers love of the beauty of nature, and describes how their eyes are opened to the grandeur of the changing seasons and their ears become sensitive to the faintest sound of the insects and the singing of birds.
A comment on earthly possessions is contained in the "Ugen Pasha". In the lap of the lotus meadow there is the Ugen Pasha, which is worn by the lama, and there is the 'Usha Chhanda' which is worn by the King. No kingly possession can match possessions of the lama".
Mrs. Gandhi's visit to Sikkim highlighted the growing tension centred on the tiny mountain state which lies on the border with China. At a mass rally held during her visit on Thursday (20 November), Mrs. Gandhi accused China of hostile activities on India's border.
When the former Himalayan kingdom was absorbed as India's twenty-second state earlier this year, China accused India of annexing it. India now has heavy troop concentrations in Sikkim, which is potentially the fastest land route into the rest of India from Chinese-ruled Tibet.