Drukpas of north Sikkim want to save their yaks from feral dogs

Report by: 
DEEPAK SHARMA
LACHEN
18 Jul 2018

The annual rituals on the occasion of Drukpa Tsheshi were celebrated with the usual enthusiasm at Lhashar Valley in North Sikkim on Tuesday. Drukpa Tsheshi rituals holds important significance to the Buddhists as it marks the important day when Lord Buddha delivered the first sermon to his disciplines at Deer Park in Sarnath.
On this day various rituals are observed in the monasteries of Lachen and Lachung to appease and pray to the local deities to protect and bring good fortune to the people. It is a belief among people of Lachen and Lachung that six guardian deities reside in the various peaks of Lachen and one deity resides at Lachung.
In Lhashar Valley in the North Sikkim, the Drukpas, the nomadic pastoral herdsman of North Sikkim, perform the rituals on the occasion of Drupka Tsheshi. The entire nomadic tribesmen from the valley assemble on the occasion to perform the pujas at the monastery located in the valley. Besides the rituals the herdsmen also engage themselves in yak races, dances and music. The Drukpas live a hard life in the valley and are entirely dependent on yaks for their livelihood. There is only one Drukpa who tends the famed Tibetan sheep in the valley. Over the years the number of Tibetan sheep has dwindled and only about 100 survive in the valley.
District Collector North Sikkim Karma R Bonpo along with the Pipon of Lachen joined in the annual rituals at Lhashar valley.
The Drukpas expressed their happiness on having the District Collector amidst them and they also put forth their problems and issues. The feral dogs in the valley were causing great harm to the yaks; often young calves were killed and eaten by the dogs. The Drukpas requested for the support of the district administration in tackling the problem in the valley. Installing solar lights in their homes was another demand placed before the collector.
The District Collector speaking to the Drukpas thanked them for their hospitality and stated the importance of securing their rights under the Forest Right Act. He stated that yaks were the identity of the state and it was important to conserve them for the posterity. He expressed hope that the traditions would be kept alive by the future generation of the Drupkas. He promised that the district administration would extend help in solving their problems.
Besides the herdsman a host of guests from the state and other parts of country were present in the valley. Chief Minister Pawan Chamling’s daughter Komal Chamling also had trekked all the way to the valley to witness the ceremony.
Lhashar Valley in North Sikkim is known for its unmatched scenic beauty and alpine grasslands. The Jhajo Pheri valley is located close by which is known for the meandering rivers which have created many oxbow lakes in the valley. During this time of the years, thousand of flowers sprout on the grassland. The open grounds also provide rich grasslands for the yaks and Tibetan sheep and it is also the time when young ones of these animals are nurtured. The tingling bells of the yaks amid the calm serene environment of the valley are a sight to behold making the valley a paradise on earth. The journey is arduous, though, and the oxygen level low.