Republic Day Sikkim Tableau to showcase Kirat Rai Culture

Gangtok: January 20, 2012

Sakewa Tableau and Sili Theme Narration of the Sakewa Tableau of the Kirat Khambu Rai’s of Sikkim to be presented during the Republic Day celebration at New Delhi on 26 January which will be narrated by Dr. SK Rai, President Akhil Kirat Rai Sangh, Sikkim.

The Tableu has been prepared by Akhil Kirat Rai Sangh Sikkim in Collaboration with the Culture & Heritage Department, Government of Sikkim.

Sikkim is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural State within the Union of India, where all the ethnic communities live in communal harmony. Ever since Sikkim merged with the mainstream in 1975, this youngest State of the Union of India has been trying its best to preserve and promote the rich socio-cultural diversity of the region. One will, therefore, find a variety of cultural traditions and practices in this part of the country.

The Sakewa Tableau being presented here is the depiction of typical socio-cultural life-styles and the
ancestry of the Kirat Khambu Rais of Sikkim; one of the oldest ethnographic tribes of this region.

On the first float of Tableau there will be a Mangpa, a shamanic priest of the Kirat Khambu Rais, chanting Mundhum, oral prayer hymns, before the Samkhalung, a sacred fire place made up of three hearth-stones; where all offerings to ancestral deities are made. A Wabuk, a container made up of dried bottle gourd with plantain leaf, is used for offering wasim (millet beer) to the deities and ancestors. He is accompanied by two Rai males beating the Dupmaken (Drum/Dhol), as part of the Shamanic rituals and Chasum Sili. On the second float, there will be two Mangpas and one Mangma performing the Sakewa ritual. They are in a state of trance – ‘trembling’; – transforming their body into a flexible cord stretched between the worlds; invoking mother nature.

One might also wonder why there are animals and birds like tiger, bear, porcupine, owl, koel, blackbirds and hornbills in the tableau. They are all related to the ancestry of the Kirat Khambu Rais. As per the mythological account, the first ever mother of the Kirat Khambu Rai family, Mama Sumnima gave birth to four children:
the first child was Yongbe, a kind of bamboo called Gopey Bans. The second child born to her was a Kiwa, a Tiger. In the same manner, she gave birth to the third child which was a Makska, a Bear. It was only the fourth or the youngest child born to Mama Sumnima who was a human being and he was called Hangsha. The mythological account further goes on to tell us that the two types of Hornbill locally called Dhanesh and Hongrayo were also the two great legendary Kirat Rai sisters, Tawama and Khiyama; whose only brother was Hechhakupa or Khaklichiwa, a slightly smaller – sized Hornbill. Hence, the Tableau of Kirat Khambu Rais would
not be complete without Hornbills. Similarly Blackbirds and Owls and for that matter, many other types of birds are a part of Kirat Khambu Rai legends.

The Blackbird which the Kirat Rais call Makwa and locally called Kalchura happen to be the great legendry, Mabini, the lady priest of Mama Sumnima. But her prediction once made Mama Sumnima very angry and she was thrown into the fire place by the anguished Mama Sumnima. Hence, she turned black. She lives amongst the Rais as Mabini Makwa; even today singing to them every morning perched on top of small rocks near small rivultes and streams. The Owl in the tableau is the legendary artisan of Kirat Khambu Rai whom they address with much reverance as Samphok Diwa. He was not only a refined artisan but also a highly knowledgeable
source of Mundhum and Rishiwa, the oral prayer hymns of the Kirat Khambu Rai. This is how the Kirat Khambu Rais are so closely related to the animals, birds and flora of the nature. Hence, they are, by birth, nature-friendly and obviously great friends to the great natural environment – one of the most eco-friendly tribal communities of the great Indian Union.

The Kirat Khambu Rais literally worship every form of nature, either as their deities or as their legendary
ancestors. This is in harmony with the Eco-Tourism and Conservation of Wild Life policies of the Government of Sikkim.The folk dance forms as depicted in the Tableu are called Sili. The Sili depicts the whole life styles of the Kirat Khambu Rais, beginning with actions for cultivation of fields called Chasum Sili; to actions of birds and animals called Bhuruwa Sili. The sacred Sili is the Maang Sili, which is performed only during offerings to the ancestral deity.

Sakewa is the main festival of the Kirat Khambu Rais of Sikkim – invoking ceremony to the mother earth, Henkhamma. In this ceremony, the Mangpas and Mangmas not only pray to mother nature for good rain, good sunshine and good harvest but also pray for well being of all human beings. After the invoking prayers are complete, everyone present in the ceremony, irrespective of caste, colour or creed dance to the tune of short beats of drums, which the Kirat Rais call Dupma Ken and cymbals (Chenbiken/Zyamta). A Bow and an Arrow (Talibey) are not only the weapons used by the ancestral deities but they are also the symbols of protection from wild animals, as well as means of hunting them for food by the Kirat Khambu Rais; during the prehistoric days-i.e. before man learned about agriculture.

The trees of Chestnut and Avocado Pear can also be seen in the midst of other trees. These two trees have special magical as well spiritual values for the Kirat Khambu Rais. The water prepared by mixing the green leaves of these tress is sprinkled all around, as a mark of purification before any rite is performed by the Mangpas.

The Kirat Khambu Rais are so simple and pious by nature that they always wish everyone long life and do not ever think of harming any one by any means whatsoever; and thus they always bless everyone with their Mundhum ‘Rangri Poyanin’ or ‘Let everyone live long life’.

Sikkim Mail



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