Kagyad Chaam- A Symbol of Peace and Prosperity

The main Torma  
Monks performing with liturgical music
Kagyed Chaam is a Sikkimese Dance performed on the 28th and 29th day of the 10th Month of the Tibetan calendar which generally falls in the last week of December. The word Chaam in Tibetan corresponds to a dance performed by various artists. This dance is performed in Sikkim symbolizing the destruction of the evil forces and hoping for peace and prosperity to flourish in every Sikkimese home. The dancers of this enormously admired Chaam are always monks who are accomplished in liturgical music and chanting. The solemn nature of the dance is interspersed with comic relief provided by the jesters. Kagyed dances enact various themes from the Buddhist mythology and culminate with the burning of effigies made of flour, wood and paper. During monarchy, Sikkim used to celebrate this dance as a national event. One can notice the Kagyed Chaam celebration of monarchical Sikkim in the visuals of much awaited documentary of Satyajit Ray.
Monks performing Kagyad Chaam at Enchey Monastery Gangtok  
With full of religious fervour this year also Kagyed Chaam was performed in a majestic comportment at Enchey Monastery Gangtok. The pictures with this post are taken by Mr. Tashi Wangyal Denzongpa at Enchey Monastery. I am thankful to him for sharing these pictures. 

Feudal Judicial System of Sikkim- A Brief Review

Like any other feudalistic arrangements, the judicial system of Sikkim has a history of its own. The King though, enjoyed a highest position in the feudalistic set up, could not execute his judicial obligations properly as he was surrounded by the then “Elites”, the Kazis, who were the de-facto arbitrators of their Ellakas. They could tax, confiscate, mortgage and sometimes seized the lands of peasants into Home Farm, the Private land holdings of the Kazis.   In short, the Kazis were the fountainhead of justice in feudalistic Sikkim and it is because of such “Lawless Law” the ordinary peasants were compelled live a combatant’s life.
Sikkim’s contacts with the British Indian Government had even worsened the existing judicial system of Sikkim. Available testimonials highlight that in 1909, the Kazis, Thikadars and Lamas were invested with legal powers by a State Council Resolution. They could try Civil Suits up to the valuation of Rs. 500/-. The State Council Resolution of 1909 had thus given an overwhelming power to the state machinery (Kazis, Mandals, Mukhtiyars, Karbaris) to exploit the common people, especially the peasants in the name of legal action. It is to be mentioned here that the formation of “British Styled” State Council used to have the British Political Officer as its President. After the establishment of the said Council, the Sikkimese Kings were kept behind curtail and the British Political Officer began to take decisions, enact Laws and to rule the Kingdom with the assistance of pro-British Kazis like Phodang Lama, Khangsa Dewan and Shoe Dewan and so on. The Kings whosoever tried to oppose the new set up either were sent to prison (Maharaja Thotub Namgyal) or were given mysterious death (Maharaja Sridkyong Trulku). Before the establishment of High Court at Gangtok, administration of justice in Sikkim was being carried out by the Feudal Landlords (Adda Courts), Dzongpens (District Officers). Pipons (Headmen) and Mandals with the Chogyal at the top.  All the important judgments were given at the Adda Courts and at the Settlement Houses by the Feudal Officials and used to give inhuman punishments of Thinguro placed at the Kazi’s House. These Thinguros were made up of wooden planks, the culprit had to put his legs inside the hole of the Thinguro, after doing it, the mouth of the Thinguro was tighten by a rod or an iron, thus, leaving the culprit standing with utter pain. He could not sit as the wood was tightened on his knees, therefore he did not have other alternatives than to cry in the dark prison of the Kazi. Further, he was not given a single drop of water for three four days, after the Kazi got satisfied from the punishment, finally he was granted pardon.
In 1916, Appellate Courts by the designation of Chief Court was created with jurisdiction to try important original suits and also to hear appeals against the decisions of the Adda Courts. But, from the study it reveals that there were very few cases of appealing against the decision of the Adda Courts due to the threat of havoc from the Kazis and Mukhtiyars. This Court also exercised supervisory and appellate jurisdiction over the Adda Courts. The Chief Court was not the final Court. The appeal against the decision of the Chief Court would lie to the Supreme Court of His Highness, the Maharaja. The Court of the Maharaja was the final Court of appeal in the State. It has no original jurisdiction. A Board on the lines of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in England would hear the parties and scrutinize the evidence regarding merit of the case and then tender its opinion to the Maharaja. (From the compilation of Hon’ble Shree A.P Subba, Former Judge High Court of Sikkim)
 In 1949, the Adda Courts were abolished on the recommendation of the Judicial Proposal Committee. The State was divided into 4 (four) revenue Districts and Magistrates were appointed in District with original and appellate jurisdiction on the criminal and civil side. The Courts of the Assistant Magistrate and the Court of Tahsildars were created. In the lowest rung, a few Honorary Courts of Magistrates were created to dispose of petty criminal and civil cases. The Chief Magistrate had both original and appellate jurisdiction on civil and criminal sides. He had unlimited powers (From the compilation of Hon’ble Shree A.P Subba, Former Judge High Court of Sikkim). 
The independence of India breeds a new hope of liberty inside the minds of the peasants of Sikkim. They too began to organise themselves in a larger manner for their rights and liberties. Due to pressure made by Sikkim State Congress, all the forced labours were wiped out by the reformist Maharaja Sir Tashi Namgyal in 1948. Further, the overwhelming powers enjoyed by the Kazis and his Officials were also restrained, indicating a new aeon in the history of Judiciary of Sikkim. From the available records it appears that in 1953, a Judge of the High Court of Sikkim was appointed but in 1955, High Court of Judicature (Jurisdiction and Powers) Proclamation, 1955 was issued establishing a High Court in Sikkim. The High Court thus established was made the final Court in all judicial matters, civil or criminal, subject to the exercise of prerogative by the Maharaja to grant mercy, pardon, remission, commutation and reduction of sentence in case of conviction. The Maharaja had also retained his prerogative to set up a Special Tribunal for the review of any case, civil or criminal. 
After becoming the 22nd State of India under Clause (i) of Article 371F, the High Court functioning immediately prior to the date of merger became the High Court for the State of Sikkim under the Constitution like any other High Court in the country. Under Clause (i) of the same Article all Courts of Civil, Criminal and Revenue Jurisdiction, all Authorities and all Officers, Judicial, Executive and Ministerial throughout Sikkim were to continue to exercise their respective powers subject to the provisions of the Constitution and under Clause (k) all laws in force immediately before the appointed day in Sikkim were to continue to be in force until amended or repealed by a competent legislature or other competent authority. 

Sikkim Jewels: A Legacy of Royal Government of Sikkim Shuts Down

Pic: Sikkim Now

Sikkim Jewels Ltd. Was established in 1972 during the reign of its last Chogyal Palden Thondup Namgyal. The foremost intention of establishing such industry by the Royal Government of Sikkim was to cater to the demand of Watch Jewels and Cup Jewels. The Company had started with a very small capacity of producing 2.00 Lakhs of Cup Jewels and 1.50 Lakhs of Watch Jewels per month. It was established at Tadong Gangtok and is spread over 3.23 acres of land. Sikkim Jewels Ltd used to be the second oldest Company of the erstwhile Kingdom of Sikkim. The oldest of such Companies is Food Preservation Factory at Singtam established in 1956, during the reign of Maharaja Sir Tashi Namgyal, the reformist. The Company had strengthened its position in the market for Watch Jewels, Cup Jewels and Rotor Magnets. In all these products, it had obtained sizeable orders from all the leading manufacturers of India like Hindustan Machine Tools Ltd., Titan Industries Ltd., and Allwyn Watches Ltd., Jaipur Meters and Electricals Ltd., VXL India Ltd., and Andhra Pradesh Electricals and Equipment Corporation.
There was heavy recession in domestic market in all the three major items produced by Sikkim Jewels Ltd. Hence, the factory was running under its own capacity since 1997. Only in 2000-2001, the unit had been able to increase its production after receiving substantial orders from both domestic and international market. The unit produced a record of 30 Lakhs Watch Jewels in November 2000. Amid to its increase in production, the current world wide economic depression has compelled Sikkim Jewels Ltd. for an untimed demise.
The Daily Telegraph of March 11 2011 reports:
The Sikkim government has decided to wind up Sikkim Time Corporation, Sikkim Jewels Limited and Sikkim Precision Industries Ltd after attempts to revive the three loss-making public sector undertakings through private participation failed....... State commerce and industries secretary M.G. Kiran said the decision to shut down the three PSUs had been taken by the cabinet on March 2.

Kham Sum Ongdi the National Emblem of Monarchical Sikkim

Kham Sum Ongdi used to be the Royal as well as the National emblem of erstwhile Sikkim used by the ruling house of the Namgyals. It is not clear since when the emblem was used by the Sikkimese monarchs to sign the Royal Decrees and Proclamations. Possibly, it came into vogue after Sikkim’s contact with the British East India Company in the 30’s of 19th century. A shell, regarded as a holy article both by the Hindus and the Buddhists is at the top of the seal which is guarded by the two Gaduras that is considered as the vehicle used by Lord Vishnu, the protector of the extraterrestrial world by the Hindu and Buddhist mythology. The interesting feature of this Royal Emblem is that even after loosing its sovereignty, the State Government of Sikkim uses it as the Government insignia. The words Kham Sum Ongdi in Sikkimese Bhutia mean “Conqueror of the three realms”.

Lost Days of Sikkim Monarchs

Inside Father's Car- Prince Tenzing Namgyal and Prince Wangchuk Namgyal

Prince Tenzing Namgyal getting ready for a "Test Drive"?

Prince Tenzing Namgyal

Football is always a favorite sport in Sikkim- Prince Tenzing with his fellow players at the palace ground 
These pictures bear copyright of http://gxp1201.tibetcul.com (A website of People's Republic of China) I am greatly indebted to Tempa Transhimalayan Arts Taipei Taiwan for sharing link of these incredible pictures of erstwhile Himalayan Kingdom of Sikkim.  

Incredible pictures of Hope Cooke Namgyal with Prince and Princess of Sikkim

Prince Palden Namgyal and Princess Hope Leezum of Sikkim 

Her Highness Hope Cooke Namgyal with Princess Hope Leezum

Princess Hope Leezum

Her Highness with the Prince

The Pride of being a mother- Her Highness with her children 
These pictures bear Copyright of http://gxp1201.tibetcul.com (A Website of People's Republic of China) I am greatly indebted to Tempa Trans-Himalayan Arts, Taipei Taiwan for sharing the link of these valueable photographs with me. 

Some Rare pictures of the Last Days of Sikkim Royals

A Royal Lady with Sikkim Guards

Chogyal Palden Thondup Namgyal & Hope Cooke Namgyal with princess Hope Leezum and Prince Palden

The Royal Couple at the King's Birthday

Gyalmo Hope Cooke Namgyal during her Reading Hours
The Chogyal being greeted by his subjects

Chogyal's beloved Hope-La
These pictures bear copyright of http://gxp1201.tibetcul.com (A website of People's Republic of China) I am greatly indebted to Tempa Transhimalayan Arts Taipei Taiwan for sharing the link of these valuable pictures with me.  

Some Rare Pictures of Her Highness Hope Cooke Namgyal- The Gyalmo of Sikkim

Her Highness at a Center of Technical Education  

Working on Buddhist Manuscript

Possibly at Namgyal Institute of Tibetology

Her Highness getting ready in National Costume 

Her Highness with Prince Palden

Her Highness attending a function

Her Highness at a  Hand loom center

Probably searching Sikkim's destiny in the Map of Asia

Her Highness in her reading room

In the palace   
These pictures bear copyright of http://gxp1201.tibetcul.com (A website of People's Republic of China) I am greatly indebted to Tempa Transhimalayan Art, Taipei, Taiwan for sharing the link of these incredible pictures with me.

Last Days of Sikkim Royals- The Chogyal and Gyalmo

The Chogyal and Gyalmo during a religious gathering at the Palace

Meeting commoners during Royal tours

The King with his beloved queen Hope-La

During Religious Celebration

During Rituals

On the palace lawn 

Chogyal and Gyalmo

The royal couple inside the palace
These pictures bear copyright of http://gxp1201.tibetcul.com  (A website of People's Republic of China)I am greatly indebted to Tempa Transhimalayan Art, Taipei, Taiwan for sharing the link of these incredible pictures with me. 

Old Pamphlet of Sikkim Congress (R)

Name of the Publisher on the back cover page 

Pic Voice of Sikkim 
Contents inside the Document 
The Cover of the Pamphlet 
This is a booklet circulated by Sikkim Congress (R) in the 80’s against the case filed by the State Government of Sikkim and Government of India against its President Shree Ram Chandra Poudyal.  This document contains 44 pages and is written in Nepali, the lingua-franca of Sikkim. It titles  R.C Poudyal viruddha Bharat Sarkar tatha Sikkim Sarkar- Sikkim Uccha Nyayalayama Hamro Muddha (The Indian and Sikkim Governments against R.C Poudyal- Our case at the Sikkim High Court). It deals with the protection and right implementation of Article 375 (f) of the Indian Constitution, which basically deals with the security of Old Sikkim Laws and Conventions. The booklet was published by Ram Lepcha, General Secretary of Sikkim Congress (R) and was printed at Vijay Printers, Tibet Road, Gangtok. The cost of this booklet was Rs 1. 

Late Lal Bahadur Basnet: An unforgettable figure of Sikkimese Politics

Lal Bahadur Basnet was born on 17th December 1926 at Nazitam, Sang in East Sikkim. Born to Lieutenant (Honorary) Prem Bahadur Basnett and Narbada Devi, Lal Bahadur Basnett is an enigmatic personality of Sikkimese politics. At the age of 4, Late Basnett, along with his parents, left Sikkim for Dehradun (then United Provinces now the Capital of Uttarakhand) and returned to his native land only after 15 years. He got his basic education at Dehradun and went to Ludhiana and admitted to Punjab University for his graduation. After accomplishing his Graduation, in 1945, he went to United Services Pre-Cadet College Belgaum.  He was court-martial from the Army due to his direct and open letter to a High ranking Army Officer. In his Letter he stated about “the dissatisfaction prevailing in 2/5 Ghurkha Rifles”, which was not engrossed by other high ranking Officers. He was sent for a rigorous three months imprisonment but, later released after spending one and a half months in the jail. After resigning from the Indian Army, he went to Pokhara (Nepal) and served as a school teacher.
He sat for the Sikkim’s first Civil Service Competitive Examinations and qualified the same by scoring more than 80% marks in both written and viva examination and was appointed as a Magistrate in 1961. His ideas of egalitarianism could not match with the monocracy. For him, the Sikkim Monarchy was standing on the fundamental principle of theocracy and chauvinism. In order to show his resentment against such system of Sikkim, Late Basnett resigned from his job and again went to Nepal. There too he sat for another competitive examination, which he cleared with a first position and got his job as Assistant Editor for a semi government English Bi-weekly “The Nepalese Perspectives”. Due to his immense faith on radicalism, which was visible in his writings, Late Basnett came under the direct surveillance of Nepali Monarchy and was put behind the bars for nearly 11 months. His days as a prisoner in the Nepali Jail paved the way for the writing of his famous novel “His Majesty’s Paying Guest” (Shree Panch ko Pahuna).
After getting expelled from Nepal Late Basnett came back to Sikkim and joined Sikkim National Congress, a political party headed by L.D Kazi. Very soon he was appointed as Joint Secretary of the Party and became an important element and was begun to be regarded as a “Think Tank” of the Sikkim National Congress Party. His ideas of democracy and egalitarianism could not stop there. In 1966, he published series of three articles on the topic of Democracy in Sikkim (Sikkim ma Prajatantra) which ultimately led to the portrayal of Late Basnett as an anti-national. He was sent to prison for using satirical and sardonic languages against the Sikkim Monarchy. Later he was granted a bail of Rs. 1 Lakh but, within a few days he was again sent to jail on the same alleged reason.  It was due to his endeavour the Sikkim National Congress had been able to win 10 out of 18 seats in the General Election of 1967. The sole credit of the victory goes to late Basnett for his political stalwartness.
Due to his deviating political views with L.D Kazi he resigned from the Sikkim National Congress and founded Sikkim Janata Party. Though, the party had never been active in the political sphere of Sikkim but, the demands made by Late Basnett and his party cannot be disregarded. After his victory in the election of 1979, he was elected as the Deputy Speaker of Sikkim Legislative Assembly.

Late Basnett as a Sportsman: During his youths he used to be a skilled sportsman. He participated at the National Boxing Championship in 1944 held at Irwin Stadium (now National Stadium) and became the first Sikkimese to become a participant in a national sports event. He was also a Captain of the Western Command Football Team in the Durand Cup in 1953. He is arguably the first Sikkimese football player to play at the National level.  
Late Basnett as a Writer: A part from a political figure, Late Basnett was a prolific writer as well. He has written many books which include Sikkim- A Short Political History (1974), His Majesty’s Paying Guest (1982), a collection of Nepali short stories Dharma Chada (1983) and The Ghurkhas of India are of importance. He has also written Rape of Sikkim a controversial book about the annexation of Sikkim by India. He wanted to publish it from India; therefore he replaced the word Rape with Merger. But, most unfortunately the Indian army seized his manuscripts at Bagdogra airport on his way to New Delhi in May 1978. Thus, this book of him remained unpublished.
Late Basnett as a Journalist: His writing habits did not allow him to sit ideal, after leaving the Editorship of “The Nepalese Perspectives” he made his tie-ups with Himalayan Observers an English Newspaper published from Kalimpong from 1967. He was also a founding editor of this Newspaper. His articles were published in many reputed newspapers of India like Blitz, Current, Himmat, Now and Surya. One of his short stories was also broadcast by BBC London in 1975 and the same story was published by a journal Imprint in 1976.
Due to lack of other relevant sources I am unable to mark the later part of his life. His other achievements will be updated as I will get further information. This article is written on the basis of an Appeal published by Sikkim Gorkha League Party for the Election of 1984. 

Old Election Manifestos of Sikkim

Election Manifesto of Sikkim Gorkha League for the Election of 24th December 1984

Continuation of the same

Appeal to the voters by Sikkim Gorkha League Party 

Election Symbol of Sikkim Gorkha League Party

Election Pamphlet of Sikkim United Independent Front for 1974 Election  
Further information about these two political stalwarts Late Lal Bahadur Basnett and Late Durga Prasad Rajalim will be updated soon.