Statesman News Service
KALIMPONG, Nov. 28. — Perplexed over the ethnic beliefs of the Tamangs, a major ethnic community of the Nepalese population, the Tamang inhabitants of Pudung village near Kalimpong have planned to convene a debate session to decide whether the Tamangs should celebrate Durga puja or Lochar, a Buddhist festival, as a majority of the community come under the banner of All India Tamang Buddhist Association (AITBA).
Stressing on the fact that they need to hold on to their cultural practices, a senior resident of Pudung village and an organiser of the debate, Mr Mani Kumar Ghisingh declared the celebration of Lochar as the “Tibetanisation” of the Tamang culture. They said that they have been celebrating the festival of Dussehra for a long time now and it is really difficult to switch over to any new custom.
The issue over the Tamang community’s preference of festival celebration erupted in Pudung when three Tamang families demanded that they wished to celebrate Lochar rather than Dusssehra. “A majority of us are in favour of celebrating Dusssehra,” Mr Ghisingh, informed.
He argued that the celebration of Lochar by the Nepalese would lead to the silent death of their culture and they will soon lose their identity.
Other seniors of the villages stated that they would function under a banner any other than that of the AITBA, if the requests to celebrate Dusssehra is rejected.
However, this is not the first time though that this topic has come under limelight. The Tamang community was included in the Scheduled Tribe list in 2003 when a section of senior Tamang community was seriously propagating the celebration of Lochar.
One of the invitees in the debate, Mr Hari Yonzone, the secretary of the Buddhist Tamang Gompa, said: “We are an independent religious community and I want to point out that one cannot be forced to follow a particular religion. It should be an independent decision irrespective of the fact whether one is a Hindu Tamang or a Buddhist Tamang”.
On the other hand, the general secretary of AITBA, Mr MS Bomzan said: “We are originally Buddhists and the celebration of Lochar is a move to safeguard our dying culture”.
Tamangs hailing from in and around the district have been invited for the discussion scheduled to be held on 2 December at the Pudung Dara, it was informed.
Statesman News Service