As the morning sun slowly rises over the picturesque hills of Sikkim, a small crowd of devotees gathers around a humble monastery. They have come from far and wide to witness a sacred ritual that has been celebrated in this remote corner of India for centuries. It is the Bhumchu festival - a time when the locals come together to honour a mysterious water pot that is said to hold the key to their fate. Bhumchu is celebrated on the 14th and 15th day of the first month of the Tibetan lunar calendar, around February - March.
The festival will be celebrated at Tashiding Monastery in West Sikkim on March 7 in 2023, and it is unlike any other festival you have come across. This celebration shows the fate of the state. The highlight of the festival is the unveiling of the Bhumchu, a small brass pot that is only opened once a year. The pot is filled with water and sealed with a wooden stopper, and according to local belief, the water level inside the pot predicts the fortunes of the community in the coming year. The higher the water level, the better the harvest and overall prosperity for the region. As you can imagine, the unveiling of the Bhumchu is a highly anticipated event that draws a large number of devotees from all over Sikkim.
Overages have been seen, indicating that the holy water has not dried up or deteriorated in more than 300 years. It still smells good.
The major attraction of the Bhumchu Festival 2023 include:
Vase opening ceremony: The sacred vase stored at Tashiding Monastery is opened on the first day of the Bhumchu festival. The lamas anticipate the future year for Sikkim based on the water level in it. If the water level is discovered to be at or near the top, it denotes revolutions and upheaval. Droughts and famines are indicated by low water levels. However, if the water is just half-filled, it heralds the start of a wealthy and calm year.
Distribution of water: The water from the pot is said to be extremely lucky. It is thought to bring riches and good fortune to those who consume it. However, just a limited quantity of water is given. As a result, devotees begin forming lines as early as midnight.
Closing ceremony: The festival's closing ceremony takes place on the second day. The pot is then refilled with water from surrounding sacred rivers and sealed, while various prayers are shouted in the background. The pot is maintained closed until the next year when it is reopened for the Bhumchu celebration. If you want to learn about Sikkim's rich culture and traditions, make sure to attend one of the state's notable festivals.