One of the first celebrations of the New Year, Maghe Sankrati celebrations are marked by great celebrations. This is the time when the locals get together to eat various edible species of Dioscorea, known collectively as yam. Losar Festival is celebrated in February as the Tibetan New Year. The youth visit the streets dressed in multi-hued streets, performing the traditional Yak dance. The festival lasts for a week and the singing and dancing continues with the youth shouting out greetings of Tashi Delek (auspicious) to herald the New Year. Darjeeling at this time of the year gets that special touch of elegance with the streets decorated with all sorts of colourful streamers.
Buddha Jayanti or the birth anniversary of Lord Buddha in April witnesses a procession that starts from Buddhist monasteries with Tibetan Monks followed by the idol of Lord Buddha's. The monks also carry Buddhist holy books in the procession. Saga Dawa (Thrice Blessed Day) is celebrated in May. It is believed that Buddha's soul entered his mother's womb, and as an adult he attained enlightenment and passed onto nirvana on this day. You can witness a special procession that takes place all day on the streets of Darjeeling, where monks and locals parade with religious banners, icons and holy books.
Kwati Purne held in the month of August witnesses the locals eat a special gruel made of sprouted legumes. Guru Purnima is a special day for Nepali Shamanism, when Jhankris (witch doctors) dance with their special dress and musical instruments to welcome the gods and goddesses on their return after the slumber in Sawan (the Nepali month). Naag Panchami in August is celebrated by the Nepali Hindus. During this, priests visit door to door with special prayers and paste the picture of snakes as Lord Bishnu for protecting the house.
Tihar (Teohar) is celebrated by the Nepali Hindus where the festival begins by giving crows good food as they are considered as the messenger of the Lord of Death, Yama. The festivities carry on for a week and are celebrated with great fervor and excitement along with lights and firecrackers that illuminate the evenings. Nambun in December is celebrated by the Lepchas tribe. On the new moon day they make a rice effigy of the demon, Lhaso Mung Punu and post a prayer take it away from the house. For the next 10-15 days, celebrations are marked by good food, new clothes and singing and dancing. Christmas on the 25th of December is celebrated all over with the festivities lasting for a week till New Year.
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