GANGTOK: For the first time since the 1800s, Buddhist monasteries of Nynmapa and Khagyu sects in Sikkim will not organise the famed Khagyad Chaam, a traditional mask dance, this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The mask dances, performed by monks, are held every year in various monasteries in the state during the Bhutia festival of Losoong (New Year), and are visited by thousands of devotees as well as tourists from all over the world.
Every year pujas and dances are held over ten days but this time the rituals will be performed for three days, during which Guru Thakmar pujas will be offered for global peace, and protection of the world against the COVID-19 pandemic, said Norbu G Bhutia, the former administrator of Gangtok's Enchey monastery, which is considered to be one of the holiest sites by the Buddhists.
In the wake of the pandemic, the state government has suggested to cut down on the festivities, which are attended by thousands every year, said Sonam Lama, the current in- charge of the Enchey monastery.
"This year, the mask dances, which is an important tradition in Sikkim, will not be held due to the pandemic.
There is some disappointment among the devotees but keeping in view the guidelines of social distancing we have taken the decision," he said.