KALIMPONG FESTIVAL

The people of Kalimpong love celebrating many Indian festivals. In fact, most of us celebrate festivals of other cultures as well. That is one aspect which keeps the people of Kalimpong together in harmony. Kalimpong is the home for people belonging to different ethnic groups. The population mainly includes Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and Muslims. And each ethnic group have their own rituals and methods to celebrate the festivals. Some of the main festivals celebrated in Kalimpong are: 

  • Dasai / Dussehra
  • Tihar / Diwali
  • 15th August (Independence Day)
  • Losar
  • Buddha Purnima
  • Eid al-Fitr
  • Christmas
  • New Year
  • Holi
  • Janmashtami

Dasai (Durga Puja)

Dasai is a Hindu festival, celebrated to honour the victory of good over evil. In Kalimpong, people get together or visit their families to rejoice on this day. This festival usually falls on the last week of September to the first 2 weeks in October. On this auspicious day, the Nepalese people dress in their brand new attire and visit their family to put tika (vermillion) from their elders. The elders in the family put tika on the foreheads of the younger members and give money as ‘ashirvad’, a blessing from the elders.

Out in the streets, the people come out after their rituals and fill the town with vibrant colours. There are small vendors selling different types of food and toys to the people. But most importantly, each locality has a ‘pandal’ (a tent or shelter) housing the statue of Goddess Durga. A brahmin conducts the Durga Puja, after which the locals visit the pandal to pay respect to Durga Maa. Once the puja gets over, the people get together again, but this time to have a dance party.

Tihar / Deepawali

Tihar/ Deepawali is the festival of lights for the Hindus, but who doesn’t like to burst crackers and light up the sky at night. So naturally, everyone joins in when Diwali is here. The festival is to honour and worship Goddess Laxmi, Goddess of wealth. The festival falls in the month of Kartik (October/November) and it is one of the most widely celebrated festivals in Kalimpong. During Diwali, people clean, paint and decorate their homes with flowers and colourful lights. 

On the night of Deepawali, the Hindu female members come out of their houses and go from door to door to sing ‘vailo’. In return, they get ‘shagun’ in the form of money or ‘sel roti and aloo dum’, a Nepalese delicacy. The next day of Laxmi Puja, Bhai Tika takes place, where the sisters in a Hindu family pray for a good life for their brothers. After the puja, it is the brothers turn to go from door to door of Hindu families to sing ‘deusi’.

15th August (Independence Day)

15th August is one of the most exciting festivals of Kalimpong. Other than Kalimpong, Delhi is the only other place where Independence Day is celebrated with great vigour. It is like a 2nd Dasai to the people of Kalimpong and the festivity is held in such a large scale. Many people from all around come to town dressed up in their best attire to watch the Independence Day program held in Kalimpong town. Independence Day is a 2day festival. The first day has the students from different schools march their way to the Mela ground from a nearby location. The students all gather at the venue after which the competition for the march past begins. 

After the marching students leave the field, the Independence Day program commences. And there are various events happening right on the ground. The students are scrutinized based on their performance and rewarded accordingly for their overall activities. Football matches are also held on the 15th and also on the 16th of August. 

Losar

Losar is a Buddhist festival and is mainly celebrated for 3 days in a stretch. It is the New Year for the Buddist community and they are seen wearing their brand new clothes. The Buddhists visit their families and greet each other with the customary ‘Tashi Delek’, ‘wish you luck’ when they meet. They also visit the many monasteries, stupas and shrines to pray and offer donation and sometimes food and other gifts to the monks there. 

Buddha Purnima

Buddha Purnima is celebrated by the Buddhist community to honour the birth, death and enlightenment of Lord Buddha. On this day the Buddhist community visit one of the Gumbas to pay respect to the Lord and saviour, Lord Buddha. They have their prayers, then they take the ‘pustak’, the holy book of the Buddhists and carry it around town. It is believed that one’s past sins get reduced if you carry the pustak and carry it on Buddha Purnima, without keeping it down. 

Eid al-Fitr

Eid al-Fitr is a religious Muslim festival celebrated widely in Kalimpong. This day marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. The Muslims visit the mosques and do their prayers together. After their prayers, some reach out and give donations to beggars sitting outside the mosque, conveniently on that particular day. The younger Muslims visit their relatives in their homes and get served delicious food and gifts from the elders in the house.

Christmas

Christmas Eve falls on the 25th of December, every year. The day marks the birth of Jesus Christ and is celebrated by Christians all over. Most of them go to church and pray and sing hymns in honour of Lord Jesus. They also exchange gifts on this auspicious day with their friends and families. They decorate their homes with bright colours and a Christmas tree. In the evening, they have cultural programs where many people participate in singing and dancing and showing their talents. This happens on the Main Road in Kalimpong. Some also go for Christmas carol and you can hear groups of people singing hymns in a distance, even late at night.

New Year

New Year marks the end of the old year and the beginning of a new year, every year on the 1st of January. This day is celebrated by every religion and community. On this day, many people take on a new venture and set goals for themselves. In short, this day is thought of as a great day to start or stop something. Some go for a picnic in the nearby picnic spots (like Relli Khola or Deolo Dara) or take a road trip to make their day a memorable one. 

Holi

Holi is a festival of Colours widely celebrated by the Hindus, mostly by the Marwari and Bihari communities. Holi signifies the arrival of spring and the end of winter. The first day also signifies the burning of the demon ‘Holika’. And the second day to rejoice the downfall of the demon. The festival goes on for two days. First is the dry holi, where only powder colours are used by people to put it on someone’s face as a tradition. They rejoice, dance, eat and drink lassi on both days. The second day is wet holi, where liquid colours are used to paint each other’s faces. You might see people walking in all shades of red, black, blue or a mixture of all the colours that are put on one’s face or body. This day can be a bit messy and colourful, so the advice is to not come outside with your best clothes.

Janmashtami

Janmashtami is a Hindu festival celebrated to honour the birth of Lord Krishna. Every year, followers of Krishna, assemble at Mangal Dham, the huge Hindu temple in Kalimpong. They have prayers and cultural programs all about the story of Lord Krishna and how he came to defeat the evil during his time. The program can go up to late at night and remarkably, you will find food stalls open even at that time of the night on this day. The followers refrain from eating meat or any non-veg product on this day.