Darjeeling – Its People and Culture
Since Darjeeling has always been the abode of people from different parts of the India and the British, it represents a mixed population as well as culture. However, the history states that the original inhabitants of the Darjeeling hills were Lepchas or Rongpas (the ravine folks). Although their origin is still in oblivion, experts found their featured similarity with the Mongolians. Another branch of the Lepchas, known as Khampas can also be categorized under the original inhabitants of Darjeeling, however, they are warrior-like in their attitude and debonair than their docile cousins. However, the Khampas are recent immigrants from Tibet.
The major of demography in today’s Darjeeling is featured with the industrious and very enterprising Gorkhas. Featured as short, Mongolian Nepalese, Gorkhas can speak various dialects and widely known for their military prowess. History testifies that Gorkhas were the first to be revered with the coveted Victoria Cross. Their traditional weapon known as Khukri, a curved ornamental knife, bears the representation of their characteristic vigor.
The other part of the population comprises the Newars or Sherpas, Bhutias and a greater bulk of Bengalee from Siliguri subdivision.
Culture of Darjeeling
When it comes to culture of Darjeeling, we should turn our attention toward the history of the region once again. Darjeeling featuring a mixed demography also boasts of a widely assorted cultural panorama. While talking about the rich culture of Darjeeling, we should start the discourse with Nepali Folk dance. The dance song is lyrical and is influenced by the ideals of both Hinduism and Buddhism, the two dominating religions in Darjeeling. According to their traditional belief, the dances were performed very often to appease gods and goddesses in the temples.
Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity to some extent have always been the predominating religions of the hilly town. Nepali, Hindi, Bengali and English are the prevailing languages. However, Bengali is mostly spoken in the plains and others including Tibetan is popular among the inhabitants and the refugee staying in the hilly tracts.
Festivals in Darjeeling also represents a mixed flavor. Apart from Durga Puja Kali Puja, Saraswati Puja and Shivratri, there are also many local festivals, which are unique to this region. Lepchas and Bhutias also perform New Year and the Tibetans perform Devil Dance to celebrate New Year in the monasteries.
When it comes to satiating your gastronomical craving, Darjeeling offers countless exotic homely foods. Among the most popular lip-smacking dishes, momos, thupkas, Shaphalay, Aludum, Tibetan tea and Tongbo are widely popular.
Bo discourse about the culture of this hilly people ends without talking about exquisite handicrafts produced by them. Their traditional handicrafts resemble the art pieces of neighboring Tibet, Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan. Their unusual talent is exhibited in the crafty art work , wood work, bamboo fret work, blankets, woolen knitted garments and woven fabrics, hand-bags, wall panels, fire-screens, folding partitions, Bhutan paintings, cotton shoulder-bags etc and many others.