MELT DOWN OF LEPCHA SOCIETY : AN ASSESSMENT
Dr. D. C. Roy.
Prologue: The term ‘melt down’ has been coined from the millennium’s greatest recession which most of the countries of the world are facing. Although melt down started in US economy but it engulfed most countries at varying degrees. The nature, type and effect of melt down are much higher than the Great Depression of 1930’s. Here we use the term melt down to show the nature of recession and the types of measure undertaken for its revival in the Lepcha society. Melt down in Lepcha society has started with the acquisition of Lepcha land by the Tibetans in 1642 i.e. the year of coronation of first Tibetan ruler in undivided Sikkim. Like US melt down which crossed the boundary of the country and has taken in its grip almost all economies of the world, the Lepcha recession which stated by acquisition of land has transmitted to each and every aspects of Lepcha culture. All economies of the globe are suffered by melt down but its effect depends upon their internal strength, absorption capacity and the management. Similarly the various sectors of Lepcha society are affected differently as per the rigidity, sensitivity, awareness and the role of the leadership in encountering the shock. Like the world economy, the Lepcha society is passing through hard time and is searching ways and means of its revival.
US Melt Down: The epicentre of US melt down is in sub-prime mortgage market during August, 2007. The crisis has emerged in housing sector then it spreads to financial sector, real sector and subsequently to the whole economy. Sub-prime mortgage means “offering loans to borrowers who do not qualify for them at market rates due to their deficient or poor credit history”. The sub-prime mortgage leads to the fall in stock market, large financial institutions collapsed and crash the economy. All macro economic fundamentals like growth, exports, imports, price etc are affected by the financial turmoil. The causes behind the US recession can simply be identified as ‘nasty greed’ and ‘excessive speculation’ on stock market exchange. The factors at the epicentre of the melt down are:
a). The ‘bubble’ in real estate, assets or in stocks
b). Subsequent to such ‘bubble’ bust, the ‘systematic failure of banking’.
Indian Experience: As India is linked globally through trade, she can not keep herself outside the effect of global melt down. Indian economy is interrelated with world economy and India can not insulate herself from the adverse effect of melt down. The effect on Indian economy was not as adverse as in case of some other developed economies of the world. In fact those countries who maintain close relation with advanced countries like USA are more affected than those who maintain comparatively closed status.
The effect of global crisis on Indian financial sector was not direct but indirect because the Indian banking system has had no direct exposure to the US sub-prime assets. Indian technology sector was severely hit. The major Indian exports like textile, carpet, gems and jewelleries were badly affected. Demand falls in housing, construction, IT and consumer durables. As a result production in manufacturing sector has shown downward trend. There was huge unemployment in both organised and unorganised sectors. There was reduction of foreign reserves and net outflow of foreign capita reduced drastically. The slow down in real sector affects the financial sector which in turn has a second order impact on the real sector. But in advanced countries the slow down originates from financial sector and spread to real sector.
D.Subbarao, the Governor of RBI pointed out that the Indian economy has suffered from three channels: trade channel, financial channel and confidence channel. The impact on Indian economy is primarily from trade channel. It is the real economy that has been affected through various channels and banks are feeling the effect of slowing down of the economy. Indian banking system is in far better shape than the western system. RBI’s regulation is noteworthy and saved the Indian economy from the devastating effect.
Remedial Measures: Indian economy feels the jerk of global melt down but the effect was comparatively mild. This is because of the strong macro economic indicators and limited capital account convertibility. The RBI, SEBI and Ministry of Finance have emerged as watchful regulators which did not allow the free play by the financial institutions. They keep strong vigil on the activities of financial intermediaries.
Two effective life support measures were extended to stimulate Indian economy. The first life support measure was undertaken by the Government of India in the form of fiscal policy and the second by the RBI in the form of monetary policy.
The government of India in three phases (7th December, 2008; 1st January, 2009 and 24th February 2009) announced three stimulus packages of Rs 85,000 crores which act significantly in arresting the negative impact of the recession. The stimulus packages are the vital life support measures for our economy. Government takes fiscal measures in the form of tax relief to boost demand and increased public expenditure to create employment and public asset.
Another life support measure which was undertaken by the RBI was in the form of monetary policy. Indian banks are governed by the rules and regulations as designed by RBI and most of the dominant banks are nationalised. RBI as a guardian of all banks announced a series of measures to facilitate orderly operations of financial market and to ensure financial stability. This prominently includes extension of additional liquidity support to the banks. The regulatory monetary policy which the RBI exercises in recent past includes: Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR), Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR), Open Market Operation (OMO), Market Stabilization Scheme (MSS) and Liquidity Adjustment Facility (LAF).
Lepcha Melt Down: Any crisis does not appear all of a sudden but starts its action unnoticed, slowly picks up its speed, spreads its wings very wide and engulfs different aspects of social system. The present crisis in the Lepcha society has its deep rooted origin and started long back with the loss of land first to the Tibetans and then to the British. Like the present world recession which started with melt down in the US house hold sector, the epicentre of Lepcha melt down lies with the colonial rule. It slowly but steadily engulfed the following aspects of Lepcha culture and society:
(i). Population: ‘The sons of the soil’, ‘the sole inhabitants of the region’ become minority in their own home land. Lepchas now comprise 2.00 per cent of total population of Darjeeling and 7.80 per cent of total population of Sikkim. In the democracy where number matters a lot, the Lepchas are cornered by the majority from the period of colonial rule. The Tibetan colonial rule has out numbered the Lepchas by the Tibetans in Sikkim while the British colonial rule is responsible for out numbering the Lepchas by a mixed population in Darjeeling. The worst effect of melt down through acquisition of land falls on population composition of the region and the Lepchas are cornered, sandwiched and suppressed in all respects. Voice of the Lepchas can not be heard in the uproarious noise of the multi-ethnic composition of population of the region.
(ii). Language: The melt down has entangled the Lepcha language in its grip. The language which all the new comers in the region needed to learn, is now on the verse of extinct and is no more practiced by the community themselves. The evil effect of melt down has made most of the Lepchas bilingual and multilingual. At present the Lepcha language is mostly confined among the elders and in the rural areas. The language which was once taught in the schools and was used in the administration during the early period of British rule has been thrown in the dustbin by the same government. Lepchas have their finest language, rich literature and scientific script. But they could not save their language from the shock of melt down.
(iii). Religion: Lepchas felt the burnt of melt down in the field of their religion. Originally Lepchas are nature worshippers and they worship different aspects of nature like mountain, hill, river, lake etc of the region. Kanchanjunga is their divine deity and it is believed that they have originated from the virgin snow of the mountain. Bongthing and Mun, the Lepcha priest and priestess, act as mediator between the common Lepchas and the spirits, good and bad. Mun takes the soul of departed person to Poomju, the resting place to meet their ancestors. All rituals are simple; nature based and is performed by the Bongthing. Melt down converted all Lepchas first into Buddhism and then some of them into Christianity. Buddhists to some extent follow their traditional rituals but the Christians are far away from their traditional beliefs.
(iv). Custom and Culture: The most unpleasant effect of Lepcha melt down is in the field of their custom and culture. Lepcha culture is the yardstick of their rich civilisation and manifestation of their high mental and spiritual level of development. Their culture is reflected through their religion, rituals, beliefs, customs, traditions, songs, music, dress, literature etc. Lepcha culture is religion based and is much close to nature. Lepchas are God-fearing and most cultural aspects are based with rituals performed by the Bongthing and Mun. Acquisition of land and inflow of outsiders hit the Lepcha culture badly and they have adopted alien culture and custom. Dam-praa and Dam-dem, the typical Lepcha dress for man and woman have been replaced by modern dress. Do-Key-Moo-Lee or in short Rong-Lee, the typical, most scientific and earthquake proof Lepcha house has become a show piece for the museum. Moo, the Lepcha clan is another marker of Lepcha society and which keeps the special identity of the women has been mismanaged and misused at the modern days. The rhythmic tune and typical musical instruments make the Lepchas praiseworthy. But the wave of modernisation and globalisation has washed out the Lepcha culture and put crow’s feather in peacock’s plumage.
(v). Economy: Recession could not spare the Lepcha economy. Traditionally the Lepchas were the hunters and food gatherers. But the Land Settlement Act and the Forest Reservation Act had completely reshaped the Lepcha economy and they are compelled to settle down in terrace based cultivation. The free sons of the soil have been arrested into small plot of fixed land and in course of time many of them have become landless. Few of them have been absorbed in different white-collar jobs. Melt down have made the Lepchas slave in their own land. Land to the Lepchas has become scarce and it is divided and fragmented. Recession has affected the Lepcha economy so much so that they have started working as daily labourers in others field.
(vi). Political Life: Melt down has taken into its grip political life of the Lepchas. The rulers of the land have been ruled by others. Lepchas are debarred from participating in policy making for their land and people. Even they were not made the party in handing over their land to any third party. It is to note that except Blood Brotherhood Treaty by which Lepcha land was handed over to the Tibetans, Lepchas were never made party to any Treaty by which their land has been divided and shared by the foreigners. During the colonial rule, Lepchas were never posted at the higher administrative posts. During the democratic set up, Lepchas can not raise their voice because of their negligible number. With the melt down of land, Lepchas lost their earlier position of ruler and become second and third class citizen in their own land. .
Remedial Measures: Lepcha Experience: The epicentre of Lepcha melt down is in acquisition of their land and all aspects of Lepcha recession are affected, dominated and initiated by external forces. As external forces are responsible for Lepcha recession it is argued that the revival measures should be initiated and executed by external forces. Realising the depth of the problem the then Tibetan and British rulers had adopted some corrective measures during the early phase of their rule in Sikkim and Darjeeling.
(i). Exogenous Measures: In Sikkim Lepcha language has been accepted as state language during the Namgyal dynasty and is still continuing by the democratic government. Since 2000 the Lepcha language has been recognised as one of the vernacular subjects up to graduation level. Dzongu, an area in the North Sikkim district has been declared as reserve for the Lepchas since 1956. No outsiders even today are allowed to settle there permanently. Some seats have been reserved in state assembly for the Lepchas. During Namgyal rule some Lepchas were chosen as Kazi and Dzongpen to help the administration. The Namgyal dynasty never allowed Christian missionaries to settle and convert the Lepchas into Christianity. On the other hand the rulers were directly involved in converting Lepchas into Buddhism which allowed them to perform their traditional custom and ritual. The Lepcha Mahayana Buddhism is the blending of traditional Lepcha culture and the Buddhism. After democracy, Christianity has started spreading at a rapid rate which restricts and does not allow performing their traditional culture. In Sikkim the Lepchas are categorised as Schedule Tribe and very recently they have been recommended for their inclusion under Primitive Tribal Groups of India by passing a bill in the state legislature.
After the annexation of Darjeeling tract from Sikkim Lepcha language was accepted as official language of Darjeeling and was used in the Court till 1911. Some Christian missionaries started schools for the Lepcha boys. Some portion of Bible was translated into Lepcha and those are the first printed book in Lepcha language. All officials who visited and posted in Darjeeling were needed to learn the Lepcha language. But the glorious days could not last long and the Lepchas have to accept foreign languages in the schools. Besides recognising Lepchas in the category of Schedule Tribe, no special provisions are made for the Lepchas of Darjeeling. They are the neglected section of the society.
Although recession has engulfed the Lepchas both in Sikkim and Darjeeling but the degree of recovery under the governmental agencies is comparatively better in Sikkim than in Darjeeling. As a result Lepchas of Sikkim are better placed than their counterpart in Darjeeling. In Darjeeling Lepchas are not getting facilities for educating in their mother tongue while Sikkim Lepchas are availing this facility up to twelfth standard. In Sikkim, Dzongu area has been reserved absolutely for the Lepchas but in Darjeeling they lost their land completely to the outsiders. Lepcha language has been recognised as state language of Sikkim but no such initiative has so far been take by the government for Darjeeling areas. Conversion in to Christianity has started in Sikkim very recently but in Darjeeling most of the Lepchas are Christian. The religious conversion has a great effect on the culture, custom and rituals of the community. Intercommunity marriage is very common in both the areas and has caused damage to Lepcha culture and custom. Lepchas of Darjeeling got more access to the outside world and hence influenced much by external forces while in Sikkim they are more confined to the state and less influenced by the melt down effect.
(ii). Endogenous Measures: On the endogenous front Lepchas of Darjeeling under the leadership of Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association (ILTA) has undertaken a number of measures for the revival of the Lepcha society.
One such area where the ILTA has focused its attention most is their language. The Association is fighting hard in introducing their language in the schools and colleges of Darjeeling. The representatives of the Association met the top leaders of the country and placed their demand since long. Finding no response from the governmental side the Association on its own initiative has started opening Lepcha Night Schools in different Lepcha dominated villages. At present there are forty such schools catering the need of four skills of Lepcha language among the young Lepchas of Darjeeling.
ILTA with financial assistance from different non-governmental organisations has published Text Books up to twelfth standard. Among the financers the important ones are: M. Way Charitable Trust, England; Foundation Fund for Indigenous people in Asia, etc. Beside some financial help in publishing Lazoang, Lepcha primer in 1982, the government of West Bengal did nothing for the spread of Lepcha language and literature.
ILTA organises seminar, workshop, conference, training for the up gradation of Lepcha culture, custom and language. The main financers in such cases are: M. Way Charitable Trust, England; Central Institute of Indian Languages, Govt of India.
ILTA encourages and provides scope for the young writers to write poem, article, essay etc both in English and Lepcha language for their quarterly news magazine ‘Aachuley’ and annual magazine ‘King Gaeboo Aachyok Birth Anniversary News Magazine’. These two magazines in a great way help in safeguarding and preserving Lepcha language and culture.
Under the initiative of ILTA the Lepchas have started celebrating different rituals and cultural programmes as par the typical Lepcha style. Some such important celebrations are: King Gaeboo Aachyok Birth Anniversary, Aaathing Sando Tshering Tamsang Traditional Lepcha Archery Contest, Renyoo Azem Rebecca Namchyoo Songs and Dance competition, Muk-Zek-Ding Rum-Faat, Tendong-Lho-Rum-Faat, Chu-Rum-Faat, Sakyoo-Rum-Faat, Rum-Faat- Daar-Faat, Lyang-Rum-Faat etc.
ILTA publishes and makes them available the common rituals in printed form. Death and Marriage rituals are the two very commonly used rituals where the Lepchas use booklet published by the ILTA. This helps in preserving the traditional culture among the common Lepchas. Lepcha Customary Law is another publication which aims at making the common Lepchas aware about the typical Lepcha culture and thereby aims at safeguarding the traditional customs of the Lepchas.
ILTA organises training for Bongthing, Lepcha priest. Lepcha society is casteless and anybody well versed in Lepcha language and well aware of Lepcha culture can perform the duty of Bongthing. The Association is trying to increase the number of Bongthing through training so as to disseminate and preserve the traditional culture among the Lepchas.
ILTA organised a long march on 14th April, 2008 from Kalimpong to Dzongu against the construction of mega hydro electric project in Dzongu, the holy place of the Lepchas. In protest the Association organised- protest rallies, hunger strikes, road blockage, meeting top leaders at the state and central level, dharna at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi. Lepchas enjoyed and celebrated the moment when the government of Sikkim declared to scrap four out of six mega projects in Dzongu areas.
The growth of population as recorded by Census Department shows irregular trend. Positive and negative trends of population are present in consecutive periods without any valid reason. ILTA questions about its justification and demands the Census department to authorise them for the enumeration of Lepcha population for the census period 2011.
ILTA as representative of the Lepchas attends different cultural programmes organised by the central and state governments. It sends representatives to participate different seminars, workshops, trainings organised by state and central governments.
By law tribal land can not be sold to any outsiders. ILTA confirms that Lepcha land should be retaind with the Lepchas only. ILTA discourages sell of land by any Lepcha but in case of unavoidable situation ILTA confirms that it is sold to the Lepchas. In some cases ILTA purchased land from the Lepchas so as to restrict it to be alienated by others. ILTA successfully restricts land alienation in the present days.
Do-Key-Moo-Lee or Rong Lee, the typical Lepcha house, is the symbol of high class Lepcha architecture. It is earth-quake proof and scientifically constructed for the hilly region. Lack of thatch grass and wood many a times compelled the Lepchas to switch over to modern concrete and tin shade construction. ILTA in collaboration with M. Way Charitable Trust, England has taken a historic step in purchasing 7 acres plus of land for the cultivation of thatch grass. Up till now 34 Rong Lees have been reconstructed and thus one of the typical Lepcha cultural identities has been saved and preserved from its extinction.
Epilogue: The melt down has a cancerous effect in Lepcha society. The devastating effect has been felt by almost all the aspects of Lepcha social, cultural, economic and political life. The impact of melt down is so deep rooted in Lepcha society that at present it is difficult to identify and separate the true Lepcha culture. In fact the long drawn impact of more than three hundred and fifty years has moulded the Lepcha society in such a way that it is very difficult to come out of the outside influence. The endogenous factors are trying hard to revive the situation with its limitations. The take off stage has been reached by the initiative taken by ILTA and now it needs some external force to push it upwards. The government as the guardian of the community should bear this responsibility and thereby preserve and conserve the culture of the Lepchas. The recovery measures the ILTA has initiated may be difficult to attain and fulfil them. It has the mind and knows the measure to revive the community culture but is restricted by the financial constraint. The government of India has successfully tackled the recession in Indian economy with the help of monetary and fiscal policies. Now it should take up a mega project and save the Lepcha culture from its extinction. A pincer movement jointly operated by ILTA and the government of India from within the community and outside is the only measure to come out of the present recession in the Lepcha society. Both the endogenous and exogenous measures should be complementary to each other and act together to save the culture of the Lepcha community from extinction in Mayel Lyang.MARGINALIZATION OF THE LEPCHA LANGUAGE IN THE DARJEELING HILLS, WEST BENGAL
A SOCIO-POLITICAL PERSPECTIVE
The Asiatic Society,Kolkata
1.0. The Demographic Status
The Lepcha speech community calls themselves ‘Mutanchi Rongkup Rumkup’and their language is called Rongring. The Lepcha language is spoken mainly in Darjeeling District of West Bengal and Sikkim. It is also spoken in Bhutan and Nepal.
According to 2001 Census, total Lepcha population in India was 50,629. The population strength of Lepcha in Sikkim is 35, 728 according to 2001 Census and 14,731 in West Bengal according to 2001 census.[Ref: Census of India-2001 Paper-1 of 2007,language India, States and Union Territories, Table C-16. Office of the Registrar General of India, Govt. Of India, New Delhi 2008] Lepchas are also settled in Bhutan (Samasti district)—the population strength being 2,000(2001 Van Driem) and in Nepal (Ilam district)—- the population strength being 1,272 (1961 Census) [according to website : http://www.ethnologue.com]
Apart from Sikkim and West Bengal, Lepcha is also spoken in Bhutan (lower valleys in the West and South) and Nepal (Mechi zone, Ilam district). In Nepal Lepcha is recognized as an official nationality by the Govt. of Nepal. In both these countries they are mainly agriculturalists, pastoralists and are followers of traditional religion and Buddhism (lamaist).
Lepchas are the original inhabitants of Sikkim and the Darjeeling district of West Bengal. The Lepcha language belongs to the Tibeto Burman sub-family under Tibeto-Chinese/Sino-Tibetan language family. It is placed in the non-pronominalised group of the Himalayan languages under the Tibeto-Burman sub-family.(Grierson,G.A.1908. Linguistic Survey of India. Vol.III, Pt.I.)
3.0.OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The study investigates and analyses the status of the Lepcha language in West Bengal. The motivation behind language choice and use, and the language attitude of the Lepcha speech community has been viewed significantly in the study. The use and choice of language in close interaction is relevant from the point of view of language identity. The range of the use of mother tongue of the Lepchas of Darjeeling also brings into light a picture of the opportunity a speaker gets in using their mother tongue in various social domains of interaction. Living in a multilingual environment, the attitude of this minority community towards their mother tongue has been focused in order to bring into light the effort which the community is undertaking to promote their mother tongue.
4.0. PRESENT STATUS OF LANGUAGE USE
The use of the Lepcha language in different social domains in Kalimpong subdivision of Darjeeling district has been viewed significantly for the purpose of the present study.
Following are the various domains which have been considered significant in using the language.
4.1.The Speech Variety:
The speech variety has the status of autonomy (a full fledged language). No work on language variation in terms of geographical and social space has been recorded.
4.2.The Orthographic status of the Language:
The Lepcha language has its own ancient script. The Lepcha alphabet is known as ‘Rong Chhyoming’. Lepcha book of alphabet is known as ‘Lazaong’. Lepcha script is standardized. The first Lepcha Primer was published in Lepcha characters in 1929 in Baptist Mission Press, Calcutta.
4.3.Codification(availability status of Dictionary, Spelling manuals, Grammars)
Codification of norms refers to the phenomenon when a selection was made regarding the language variety by some agency, e.g., individual having authority starts out to make dictionaries, spelling manuals, grammars, etc. to fix the variety so that a norm is established and the members of the speech variety agrees to that part. The intellectual credibility must be there for codification.
The available publications are presented in the following.
1. Tamsang, K.P. 1982.Lazaong ( book of glossary, lexicon, syllabic scheme, etc.) Kalimpong; Mani Printing Press.
2. Tamsang, K.P. 1980. Lepcha English Encyclopedic Dictionary. Kalimpong; Mani Printing Press. Second edition 2009.
3. Tamsang, K. P. 1978.A Grammar of the Lepcha Language (in Lepcha). Kalimpong: Mani Printing works.
4. An English to Lepcha Dictionary in 1996. Gangtok: Lyandok Kurmon, Gangtok, Sikkim.
5. Mainwaring G. B. 1876. A Grammer of the Lepcha (Rong) Lepcha Language as it exists in the Sikkim and Dorjiling Hills, Baptist Mission Press, Calcutta.
6. Mainwaring,G.B.1896. Dictionary of the Lepcha Language. Revised and completed by Albert Grunwedel. Berlin:Unger.
7.Sinha,P.1966. Descriptive Grammar of Lepcha. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation.Pune:Deccan College.
8. K.P. Tamsang 1999. Lepcha Proverbs Kalimpong; Mani Printing Press.
9. K. P. Tamsang Lepcha Proverbs with English Equivalent-1998. Kalimpong; Mani Printing Press etc.
4.4. Elaboration of Function (range of use):
Broadly speaking, Lepcha is basically used in the intimate and home domain.
In West Bengal the language has no place in the Primary and Secondary education system of West Bengal.( On the other hand in Sikkim, Lepcha is taught as a subject matter in the Government schools up to undergraduate level).
It is only taught in the Lepcha Night Schools of Darjeeling district run by the sole initiative of The Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association in the village levels upto XIIth standard. There are 40+ (forty plus) Lepcha Night Schools in the Darjeeling Hills.
4.5.Implementation of the language by the community:
i)Register and Style:
Register refers to language variation in the occupational lexical level with special reference to the context of situation.
Some registral variation is evident in the language. e.g., vocables used for medicinal plants, farming, insects etc.
Stylistic variation can be observed in case of poems and narrative writings.
4.6. Legal status of the Language
There is no officially declared status of Lepcha in West Bengal.
Lepcha speech community is considered to be a scheduled tribe pertaining to the state of West Bengal.
4.7. Development of the language:
The literary contributions are mostly done by the native speakers of the language. The literary efforts in the language has been enumerated below.
i) Translations works:
Some translation works are available. Translations are essentially from Tibetan, English, Bangla, and Hindi languages. Following translation works are available in the language.
1.‘Gitanjali’ from Bangla by P.T. Simick.
2.Buddhist scriptures from Tibetan
3. Gospel from English (First Bible published in Lepcha in 1845 from Baptist Mission Press)
4. New Testament from English
5. Hymn Books
7. Old Testament
ii)Religious Writings :
Namtho Namthar, the indigenous Lepcha literary works attest nature worshipping as the traditional practice of the Lepcha people. These Namtho Namthars are available only with the Lepchas of Kalimpong, Darjeeling. Naamtho Naamthaar have also been translated into English but they remain unpublished. Lepcha Hymn books (religious songs: 200 songs approx.) were published from Baptist Mission Press.
Articles on ideological writings are published in magazines by the Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association.
iv)Categories of Literature
Literary works of various types like Narratives, Lyrics, Plays, Songs, Fictions and other non-narratives are available in the Lepcha language.
Some of the literary contributions have been mentioned in the following.
1. Mayel Pundor
2.Muk Jek Ding Rum Fat
3.Chyoo Rum Fat
4.Chyoo Zong etc
1. Kayu Rong Vom Chyo
2. Rong Zyung Vom
3. Sakyoo Rum Faat Chyo
4. Chyoo, Da an Lep
5. Taarsyok kaat sagraam rongkup kati
6. Nyoo Thing Laom Fron etc
1.Kingchum do Arepjong
2. Zer Fo Kup (collection of plays)
3. Nahan Bri
4. Rongnyoo Rongeet
5. Zer Kaomlenla Kursong Sarvo Rip Ryoo etc.
1. Aamoo Ringdom Pyok lao Chaakaa (collection of songs)
2. Vom Panaol (A Gift of Songs)
3. Chhakdaong Panaol etc
4.8. Works on the Language:
Some of the works on the Lepcha language, literature and speech community that are worth mentioning are presented in the following:
1.Awasty,Indira.1978.Between Sikkim and Bhutan (the Lepchas and Bhutanese of Pedong)Delhi: B.R. Publishing Corporation.
2.Benedict,Paul K.1972.Sino-Tibetan:A Conspectus. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press
3.Bhattacharya, A. 1989.Sikkim.New Delhi:National Book Trust India.
Campbell, A.1840. ‘Note on Lepchas of Sikkim’. JASB vol.IX: 379-393
4.Chakraborti,A. 1978. Read Lepcha (An introduction to the Lepcha or Rong Scripts Self instructor for reading the language) NewDelhi.
5.Chattopadhyay,T. 1946.Lepchas and their heritage. Delhi: B.R. Publishing.
6.Das,A.K.and Banerjee,S.1962. The Lepchas of Darjeeling district. Govt of West Bengal: Director of Tribal Welfare.
7.Das,A.K.1975. ‘The Lepchas in the eyes of earlier authors’. Bulletin of the Cultural Research Institute. Vol.XI,No.1&2:80-90.
8.Das,A.K.1978. The Lepchas of West Bengal. S.Dey for Editions Indian.
9. Dattamajumdar,S. 2009. ‘Reduplicated Expressives in Lepcha’ . Buckingham Journal of Language and Linguistics ,vol.2. No.2. 19-25.UK.
10.Dattamajumdar,S. 2009. ‘A Deterministic Study of the language Attitude of Lepcha.’ Journal of the Asiatic Society. Vol. L1,No.4. 13-28
11. Dattamajumdar, S. 2009. ‘Language Proficiency and Preference: A Case study with Lepcha’ in the Proceedings of The International Conference on World Languages and North-East Languages: Convergence, Enrichment or Death. NEHU: Shillong.
12.Debbarman,P.1992. ‘Education among the Lepchas of Darjeeling’. Bulletin of the Cultural Research Institute. Vol.XVIII,No.1&2:29-31
13.Foning,A.R.1972. ‘The Children of Kanchenjunga’.Bulletin of the Cultural Research Institute. Vol.IX,No.1&2:61-63.
14.Foning,A.R.1979. ‘A short account of the Lepcha Language’. Bulletin of the Cultural Research Institute. Vol.XIII,No.3&4:20-30.
15.Foning,A.R.1980. ‘Some customary laws of our Lepcha Tribe’. Bulletin of the Cultural Research Institute. Vol.XIV,No.1&2:17-21.
16.Foning, A.R. 1987. Lepcha, my vanishing tribe. New Delhi: Sterling
17.Gorer, G.1984.Lepchas of Sikkim. Delhi: Cultural Publishing House.
18.Grierson,G.A. 1908.Linguistic Survey of India.Vol.III, Pt.I.
19.Hermanns,Matthias. 1954.The Indo-Tibetans; The Indo-Tibetan &Mongoloid Problem in the Southern Himalaya and North –Northeast India. Bombay: K.L. Fernandes.
20.Kloss.A, Mahapatra,B.P, Padmanabha,P, MacConnell,G.D & Verma,V.S.(ed.) 1989. The Written Languages of the World: A Survey of the Degree and Modes of Use. Non- Constitutional Languages of India. Vol.II. India: Registrar General & Census Commissioner.
21.Mainwaring,G.B.1876. A Grammar of the Rong (Lepcha) language as it exists in the Dorjeeling and Sikkim Hills. Calcutta.
22.Mainwaring,G.B.1898. Dictionary of the Lepcha Language.Revised and completed by Albert Grunwedel.Berlin: Unger.
23.Mallick,B. & Chowdhuri, M.K. 1980. ‘Ngsaey – A Lepcha dominated village’. Bulletin of the Cultural Research Institute. Vol.XIV ,No.1&2: 93-95.
24.Morris,J. 1938.Living with Lepchas. London; Toronto, William Heinemann.
25.Neethivanan,J. 1967. ‘Notes on Investigation among the Lepchas’ Darjeeling District Census Handbook. West Bengal:Census of India 1961.
26.Risley,H.H.1894.The Gazetteer of Sikkim.Calcutta:Bengal Secretariat Press.Denmark:Copenhagen National Museum.
27.Plaisier,H. 2003. ‘Lepcha’. The Sino-Tibetan Languages.(Thurgood and Lapolla ed.)London & NewYork:Routledge.
28.Plaisier, H.2003. Catalogue of Lepcha Manuscripts in the Van Manen collection. Leiden: Kern Institute.
30. Plaisier,H. 2007. A Grammar of Lepcha. Leiden : Brill
31.Siiger,Halfdan. 1967. The Lepchas: Culture, religion of a Himalayan People,Pt.I &II.National Museum Ethnographic Series, Vol.II, Pt I. Copenhagen.
32.Sinha,P.1966. Descriptive Grammar of Lepcha. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation.Pune:Deccan College.
33.Singh,K.S.(ed.)1993.People of India: Sikkim. Vol.XXXIX . Anthropological Survey of India. Calcutta: Seagull Books.
34.Sprigg,R.K. 1982. ‘The Lepcha language and Three Hundred Years of Tibetan Influence of Sikkim’. JASB.vol.XXIV.No.1-4;16-31.
35.Stocks,C.De Beauvoir.1925. ‘Folklore and Customs of the Lepchas of Sikkim’ JASB. Art.No. 23.New Series.vol.XXI:325-505
36.Tamsang, K.P.1978. A Grammar of the Lepcha Language (in Lepcha). Kalimpong: Mani Printing works.
37. Tamsang K. P. 1980, 2009. Lepcha English Encyclopeadic Dictionary. Kalimpong. Mani Priting Press.
38. Tamsang K. P. 1999. Lepcha Proverbs. Kalimpong. Mani Printing Press.
39. Tamsang, K.P. Unknown and Untold Reality about the Lepchas 1983,1998
40. Tamsang, K. P. Glossary of Lepcha Medicinal Plants, 2004.
41. Tamsang, Lyangsong, 2008. Lepcha Folklore and Folksongs, Sahitya Akademi.
42.Waddell,L.A.1898. ‘The Lepcha or Rong Language as illustrated in its songs’.JASBvol.LXVII(3):75-85.
4.9. Printed Oral Tradition:
The Lepcha language has a rich oral tradition. Efforts have been made essentially by the Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association for publication of such indigenous knowledge of the speech community. Some important works are mentioned in the following.
1. Lepcha Myth by K.P. Tamsang 1996.
2. Lepcha Folklore by K.P. Tamsang 1997.
3. Rong Taom Sung by K. P. Tamsang (Lepcha moral Stories) 1999.
4. Rong Sung Gyom by K. P. Tamsang (Lepcha folk tales) 2004. etc.
5. Rong Sung Gyom (Lepcha folktales) by P. T. Simik 2002.
Publication of the periodicals constitute an integral part of the contribution of the Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association for the promotion of their mother tongue and indigenous culture. Some of such worthy publications are mentioned below.
1. Achuley (quaterley) published by The Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association. Editor, Lyangsong Tamsang.
2. Pano Gaebo Achyok (annual) published by The Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association. Editor, Lyangsong Tamsang.
3. Aathing K.P.Tamsang (annual) published by Pachaok Lepcha Village Association. Editor, Suksing Kongchhyen Lepcha, Kalimpong.
4. Zyer Fo Kup (annual) published by Ryon Lepcha Village Association, Kalimpong.
5. One handwritten magazine published from Mirik, Kurseong, has been reported.
In West Bengal the Lepcha language has no place in the educational curriculum provided by West Bengal Board of Secondary Education.
It is only taught in the Lepcha Night Schools run by The Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association in the village levels upto XIIth standard as a subject .
ii)Private / Religious Schools:
i) There are 40+ (forty plus) Lepcha Night Schools all over Darjeeling district established by The Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association where Lepcha is taught formally to the Lepcha children along with English language from pre-primary to XII standard.
ii) There are no religious schools. Only Boongthing and Mun, the Lepcha priest and priestess of their traditional religion teach their disciples about their own practice in Lepcha language. All these are basically oral teachings and are considered to be the highest form of spoken variety of the language by the members of the speech community.
4.12. Text books written in the Language:
Text books in the Lepcha language are published with private effort of the Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association to carry out the development of the language especially as a syllabus for the Lepcha Night Schools where Lepcha language is taught.
Some publications are mentioned in the following.
1. Lazaong (Lepcha syllabic schemes)- K. P. Tamsang 1982, 2002,2008,2009
2. Lepcha Primer –I by G.T. Sitling Lepcha, 1929, 1957, 1971, 2002, 2006, 2009
3. Lepcha Primer – II by S.K. Taso Lepcha, 1949, 2002, 2009
4. Lepcha Primer- III by D.S. Lepcha, 2002.
5. Lepcha Primer –IV by D.S. Lepcha, 2002.
6. Lepcha Reader- V by D.S. Lepcha, 2007.
7. Lepcha Reader- VI by D.S. Lepcha, 2007.
8. Lepcha Reader- VII by D.S. Lepcha, 2007.
9. Lepcha Reader-VIII by D.S. Lepcha, 2007.
10. Lepcha Reader- IX by D.S. Lepcha, 2007.
11. Lepcha Reader- X by D.S. Lepcha,2007.
12. Lepcha Reader- XI by P.T. Lepcha, 2008.
13. Lepcha Reader- XII by P.T. Lepcha, 2008
4.13. Mass Media
All India Radio, Kurseong broadcast Lepcha programme (only folk songs) twice a month. (Ten minutes only).
No regular programme has been reported to be broadcast from All India Radio, Kolkata
No regular programme is telecast in Lepcha .
ii)Print Media :
1.Calendar (lunar)is published in the Lepcha language by The Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association, Kalimpong.
The other printed matters have already been mentioned in section 4.10
iii) Movies / Advertisements:
A number of documentaries are available in the Lepcha language. The subject matters of these documentaries are basically folk songs, rituals, customs, tradition etc. Following documentary films are worthy to be mentioned in this connection:
1. One documentary on Lepcha culture and livelihood has been prepared by Central Institute of Indian Languages, (MHRD) Mysore.
2. One documentary on the Pilgrimage to Dzongu ( Faokram Takram Lyang) by Kalimpong Lepchas.
3. One documentary on Lepcha New Year programme, Nambun, Namaal, Namsung has been done by Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association, Kalimpong.
4. Films Division, Government of India, is currently shooting a documentry film on the Lepcha tribes, Aachuley!
Advertisements and Posters in the Lepcha language are prepared and circulated by the Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association of Headquarters Kalimpong, Darjeeling .
1. Celebration of the birth anniversary of King Gaeboo Aachyok
2. Leaflets on Lepcha New Year.
3. Movement to save Dzongu (the Lepcha holy land in Sikkim) etc.
Rural and Health development departments do not produce posters and pamphlets in the Lepcha language.
Such activities are done in the Lepcha language by The Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association.
4.14.Internal written communication:
Notices like resolutions of The Lepcha Indigenous Tribal Association, pilgrimage to Dzongu, examination in night schools and various administrative instructions are done in Lepcha and circulated especially in the Lepcha villages in the Darjeeling Hills.
ii) Other Activities:
In West Bengal Lepcha language is not used in administration , legislation or in judiciary.
Lepchas as a tribal community has indigenous customary laws which are written in Lepcha are practised amongst the Lepchas.
In respect to trade and industry Lepcha is used as per the situation along with Bhotia, Hindi and Nepali. English is used marginally.
4.15. Effort for Promoting the language:
i) Agencies (Govt./ non-Govt.):
1.The Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association (est.1925) is a non-govt. agency that takes initiative in promoting various literary, social, cultural activities all over Darjeeling district.
The Association has three tier system :
Central (Headquarters : Kalimpong)
Village level and supported by
The Lepcha Youth Organisation
2. Preparation of documentary film on the Lepchas of Darjeeling, Bilingual dictionary, etc. are some of the initiatives taken up by the Central Institute of India Languages, Mysore (Ministry of Human Resource Development, Govt. Of India)
ii) Personalities Promoting Language and Culture:
1. Lyangsong Tamsang, Editor and President, Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association, Headquarters, Kalimpong
2. P.T.Simik (Translator of ‘Geetanjali’ / author, Bhasa Saman)
3. Sonam Tshering Lepcha (Sangeet Natak Akademi Awardee/ Padmasree)
4. N.T.Lepcha (Lyricist, poet, dramatist, singer)
5. Hildamit Lepcha (Sangeet Natak Akademi Awardee)
6. Gautam Lepcha (Novelist, Poet)
7. Dup Shuzong Lepcha (Essayist and Text Book Writer)
8. Suksing Kongchhyen Lepcha (Dramatist, Poet and Editor)
9. O. T. Lepcha (Namtho-Namthar)
10. Palden Lepcha (Namtho-Namthar and Essayist)
11. O. T. Goulok Lepcha (Essayist)
12. Anthony Lepcha (Poet)
13. Ongden Lepcha (Essayist)
14. Pasang Tshering Lepcha (Lyricist)
15. Ten Tshering Lepcha and others (Essayist)
5.0. THE SCENARIO IN SIKKIM
Contrary to the above scenario regarding the status of the Lepcha language, Sikkim gets support from Governmental level that marks a radical difference in attitude of the members of the speech community.
Lepcha has been declared as one of the three official languages (along with Nepali and Bhotia) by the Sikkim Govt. vide notification dated October 17, 1977 . Lepcha has been considered as official language by the Govt. of Sikkim.
In the educational level Lepcha is taught as a subject in the Government schools up to undergraduate level. Series of text books in Lepcha are published from Government press, Govt. of Sikkim.
In Legislative activities mainly English and Hindi are used. Translation in Lepcha are of course done when required. There is provision for qualified Lepcha translators.
Rural and Health development departments have reported to produce posters and pamphlets in the Lepcha language.
Notices are available mainly in Lepcha section of Human Resource Development and in the organizational level in North Sikkim.
Sikkim Herald (Weekly newspaper) is published from Information and Public Relation Department , Goverment of Sikkim.
AIR, Gangtok broadcast Lepcha program me. Composite programme in the Lepcha language is broadcast everyday from 4.30 to 5.00 P.M. This consists of three or four folksongs, talk on Lepcha social or environmental affairs. At 6.45 P.M regional news in Lepcha is also broadcast.
Some years back local cable stations used to telecast news in Lepcha. But at present Nayuma cable TV centre, Gangtok telecast small albums at times.
Effort for promoting the language has been taken up both by the governmental and non-governmental agencies like——
1. Sikkim Academy(Govt.) for the development of State Language (for the development of Lepcha language) under Culture and Heritage Department.
2. Sikkim Lepcha Literary Organization, Gangtok (NGO) for the development of the literature of the language.
3. Laom Aal Shezum , North Sikkim.
4. Rong Ong Shezum (Youth Association, Gangtok)
6.0. ANALYSING THE STATE OF AFFAIR
Historically viewing, Lepcha, once an official language of Darjeeling hills, was in extensive use in Darjeeling area till the end of 19th Century. When Dr. Campbell took charge of the administration in Darjeeling, Lepcha language received a back foot and started to be considered as the language of the aboriginal people who are socially and culturally backward. Foning (1987:160. Lepcha, my vanishing tribe. New Delhi: Sterling) rightly puts it as, “ The government language report gave unfavourable findings. This was the result of a politically motivated action on the part of the British government.” As a consequence, black and white communication came to be considered as an occasional phenomenon of the present –day Lepcha society in spite of having a developed literary history.
The socio-political dominance of the Nepali language that started from the end of 19th Century, can be traced to be the major socio-political factor , that exerts immense pressure on this minority language. Inspite of the fact that Nepali is an Indo-Aryan language and that Lepcha , a Tibeto-Burman language that had a developed tradition, the huge continual migration of Nepali population that was encouraged by the then British administration influenced every aspect of social life in the hills of Darjeeling. Therefore Foning (ibid:296) aptly observes, “Both in the urban and the rural areas, the Nepali language has virtually become the ‘Lingua Franca’ for the people of different ethnic groups that one finds in the regions.”
The enquiry regarding the status of Lepcha language in the curriculum of West Bengal Board reveals that, Lepcha language has not been incorporated in the curriculum of primary and secondary education. Neither as a medium of instruction nor as a subject, Lepcha finds its place in the education system of West Bengal (Ref: Syllabi published in 1984 and revised in 2006). Therefore depriving the formal cultivation of reading and writing skills in Lepcha, the mother tongue, for the present generation. On the other hand Nepali being a link language is found to exert immense pressure especially being one of the languages (taught in school) taught in West Bengal education curriculum.
Not only Nepali, the promotion of Hindi in the government level — both at the centre and state government levels is also replacing Lepcha language in different domains of social life. The exposure of Hindi through audio-visual media is found to have penetrated even in the remote villages of Darjeeling district.
English language being one of the associate official language of the country is considered instrumental to future economic opportunities for the younger generation. The formal education provided by the missionary schools that came into vogue from nineteenth century naturally enhances the use of the English language.
7.0. SUGGESTIVE MEASURES
The above situation reveals the fact that in spite of being a language with developed literary tradition and a good deal of effort by the Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association (especially in the matter of teaching Lepcha language through the night schools and publishing text books for different classes), the language is yet to get a place in the West Bengal state educational system. Field investigation reveals, the qualified people of Darjeeling District having expertise to teach Lepcha language has to migrate to Gangtok, Sikkim for seeking relevant job.
The effort in the Governmental level of West Bengal for incorporation of the Lepcha language, (the mother tongue of the autochthones of the land) in the board of Primary/Secondary/Higher Secondary Education would have helped in uplifting the ‘Right to education in mother tongue’ and in eradicating the sense of marginalization /identity crisis of the speech community. Such a policy on the part of the government is likely to uphold justice for the Lepcha speech community which is socio-politically significant for the present –day Darjeeling hills.
Indian Census 2011 - Documentation
An Appeal to the Lepchas of West Bengal
1. Presently the Indian Census 2011 is under way. It is of vital importance that you, the original indigenous Lepcha of Darjeeling District,West Bengal,are well aware about it and you need to very actively participate in the Indian Census 2010/2011 documentation process as the number one citizen of india
2. Planning and implementation of development works for the people of India including a small community like the ‘Lepcha Tribes’is carried out on the basis of numbers and strength of their population. Greater importance is given to those communities who have a large population . In another words, our strength lies in greater number and population in a democratic country like India. Small population means certain death of your language, literature, cultural heritage and identity.
3. It is, therefore, very very important that you very actively participate and help the enumerators and census officials when they visit your home to document your details. The Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association, Headquarters Kalimpong ,for the overall benefit and looking ahead for the future generation Lepchas of West Bengal, request you to very strictly adhere to the following three very important and major points,3a, 3b and 3c and ensure that these important points are correctly entered and recorded in ink (not in pencil) by the enumerators and census officials before they leave your home:
a. Make sure that you give, write and enter the caste/race as ‘LEPCHA’ after your forename and clan, in case you write your clan. It is a must. A good example is:
Forename Clan Caste/Race
Lyangsong (Tamsang) LEPCHA
John (Rongong) LEPCHA
Mayelmit (Sungdyangmoo) LEPCHA
Sonam Tshering (Sada) LEPCHA
b. Under the ‘LANGUAGE’ Column of the Census Form
Please ensure that you give, write and enter ‘LEPCHA’ as your Mother Language/Mother Tongue in the census form. It is a must e.g.
Mother Language/Mother Tongue- LEPCHA
c. In case the enumerators or cencus officials do not visit your home and your documentation is not carried out, it is your responsibility to report it immediately to your Kyong/Rong Ong Prongzoom/Thom/Poom Shezoom for their further necessary action. Kyong/Rong Ong Prongzoom/Thom Shezoom are to remain alert and vigilant during the Indian Census 2010/2011.
Kyong Shezoom (Lepcha Village Association)
Rong Ong Prongzoom (Lepcha Youth Association)
Thom Shezoom (Lepcha Association Sub-Divisional Branch)
Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association, Headquarters Kalimpong
1. D. M. Darjeeling
2. S.D.O. Kalimpong
3. S.D.O. Darjeeling
4. S.D.O. Kurseong
5. S.D.O. Siliguri
6. B.D.O. Kurseong (Kurseong, Mirik, Sittong)
7. B.D.O. Kalimpong (Block I, Block II, Block III)
8. B.D.O. Darjeeling (Darjeeling, Bijanbari, Sukhiapokhari, Takdah)
9. Administrator, DGHC, Darjeeling
10. Census Commissioner, Government of India, New Delhi
11. Governor of West Bengal
Lepchas’ Rum Faat - Daar Faat at the Meeting of two
Rivers, Rongnyoo and Rong-Eet - 30th January
A meeting between the Lepchas of Faokraam Takraam i.e. Dzongu, North Sikkim, and the Executive Committee Members of Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association, Headquarters Kalimpong, Darjeeling, West Bengal was held on 4 December 2009 at Ringmom Kurmom Building, Gangtok, Sikkim, on the invitation of the Lepchas led by Ren Sonam Lepcha, Deputy Director of Education and it was, unanimously, decided by the meeting that two Rum Faat, prayers and ovations to the Lepchas’ Creator and Deities, one at the meeting of two rivers, Rongnyoo and Rongeet, near Teesta Bazar, Kalimpong, to be organised by the Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association, Headquarters Kalimpong, and this to be followed by the next at the meeting of the two rivers, Rongnyoo and Ronggyaong, next to Naampricdaang, Upper Dzongu, North Sikkim to be organised by the Lepchas of Dzongu under the leadership of Ren Sonam Lepcha, Deputy Director of Education, North Sikkim.
As agreed in the meeting and true to their words, the Executive Committee Members, Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association, Headquarters Kalimpong, organised the first Rum Faat Daar Faat, prayer and ovation to the Lepchas’ Creator and Deities, at the meeting of two rivers, Rongnyoo and Rongeet, on 30th January 2010 and invited the Lepchas of Dzongu, North Sikkim and Darjeeling Hills, West Bengal. 14 (fourteen) Lepcha Mun and Boongthing (Lepcha Priestesses and Priests) under the leadership of Nyolik-Nyoosong Mun, Norden Tshering Lepcha of Kalimpong, conducted the Rum Faat Dar Faat.
Inspite of the Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association’s invitation in advance, it was very unfortunate, that Ren Sonam Lepcha, Deputy Director of Education and his party from Dzongu were unable to participate in the function on the day owing to the reasons best known them alone. Obviously, it was very disappointing but it was not all gloomy. Ren Chopel Lepcha, Renyoo Mayelmit Lepcha and their friends from Dzongu attended the function. The Lepchas of Darjeeling Hills were overwhelmed with their presence alone. We can see that Ren Chopel Lepcha and their friends have an organised institutions like the ACT and CLOS for the Lepchas. Ren Chopel Lepcha and his members are committed towards the Lepchas’ cultural heritage. They showed and demonstrated the true concept of ‘Lepcha are first and formost’.
Will the Lepchas of Dzongu under Ren Sonam Lepcha, Deputy Director of Education and friends keep their words to conduct the Rum Faat Daar Faat at the meeting of the two rivers, Rongnyoo and Roonggyaong, next to Naampricdaang and invite the Lepchas of Darjeeling Hills, West Bengal? Are they true to their words? Are they really serious about the Lepcha cultural heritage? Are they serious about the unity of the Lepchas? It remains to be seen.
A Senior Correspondent
The 278th Birth Anniversary Celebration of
King Gaeboo Achyok of Damsang
at Mela Ground,Kalimpong,
on 20th December 2009
The 278th Birth Anniversary Celebration of His Majesty the King, Pano Gaeboo Achyok of Damsang, was celebrated with pomp and ceremony on 20th December 2009 at Mela Ground, Kalimpong,West Bengal.Indigenous Lepchas from Darjeeling, Sikkim, Illam (Nepal) Hills, Kolkata, New Delhi and other places assembled in great numbers,approximetly nine thousand of them, in their fine traditional Lepcha dresses. The Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association, Headquarters Kalimpong, organised a huge but very peaceful rally of the Lepchas from 10th Mile to Mela Ground passing through the Main Road, Kalimpong,with their sacred cry ‘Aachuley! Aachuley!Aachuley! and it was really a magnificent sight to behold.
Master of the ceremony, Ren N.T Lepcha,very efficiently conducted various Lepcha programmes.Ren Rumden Lepcha, Ren Dorjee T. Lepcha and Ren Azuk Tamsang Lepcha,representating the Lepcha Youth Association, Headquarters Kalimpong, expressed their thoughts on the Lepchas of Mayel Lyang. The Lepcha youth leaders spoke in impeccable Lepcha telling the world that the ancient and very rich Lepcha language, literature and culture is not vanishing but it is flourishing in the Lepcha world today.
Various Lepcha cultural groups from Dzongu, See Aa Ree, Sikkim, Illam, Nepal, Kurseong, Sokhyam, Meerek, Singringtam, Karmi, St.Joseph’s School, Git-Dabling, Kalimpong and other places demonstrated and proved to the world that the ancient Lepcha culture, tradition is still alive and well.
Renue S. Lepcha from Illam, Nepal, the Chief Guest of the Day, an MP from the Government of Nepal, in her speech, expressed her immense delight in seeing and meeting so many Lepchas from different parts of Mayel Lyang. She further added that it was her first visit to Kalimpong, the heart land of the Lepchas. In her speech she emplored the Lepchas of Mayel Lyang to unite and work hard for the dignity, honour and identity of the Lepchas of Mayel Lyang. Congratulating the Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association, Headquarter Kalimpong, she said that a very good beginning is a work half done. The Lepchas of Kalimpong has already done remarkable job in bringing awareness about their own language, literature and cultural heritage in Mayel Lyang.
The Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association, Illam, Nepal, received the coveted ‘Aathing K. P. Tamsang Lepcha Language and Literary Award 2009’ for their outstanding work on the conservation, maintenance and development of the Lepcha language and literature in Illam, Nepal.
Reverend Father Felix D’Souza, the Director, St.Joseph’s School,Git-Dabling, was recognised wih the ‘Life Membership Award’ for his untiring work for the development of Lepchas of Git-Dabling, Kalimpong.
The following Lepcha bilingual journals and calender were also released on the day:
.Aathing K. P. Tamsang Lepcha Language
Literary Award 2009
‘Aathing K. P. Tamsang Lepcha Language and Literary Award’ was first set up and established in 1996 with the sole aim of uplifting and developing the Lepcha language and literature in Maayel Lyaang by Ren and Renue Lyangsong Tamsang of Bom, Kalimpong. The award is given annually, in fond memory of Aathing K. P. Tamsang, a renowned Lepcha scholar, linguist and thinker who worked untiringly throughout his life for the maintenance and development of the Lepcha language, literature and cultural heritage, to a deserving person or institution irrespective of community, creed and country.
The Aathing K. P. Tamsang Lepcha Language and Literary Award was awarded to the Indigenous Lepcha Association, IIlam, Nepal, for the year 2009 for their outstanding contribution and achievement in the field of Lepcha language and literature in Illam, Nepal.
The Indigenous Lepcha Association, Illam, Nepal, led by Ren Prembahadur Lepcha and Ren Birbahadur Lepcha, have revived the almost extinct Lepcha literature in Illam, Nepal. Organising a series of Lepcha Language Trainings to their Lepcha youths, both boys and girls; establishing Lepcha Night Schools in remote villages; organishing ‘Tashye Naamtho-Naamthaar Saknyim’, the Ancient Lepcha Manuscripts Day, at Fikkal, Illam, and demonstrating the importance and value of the Lepcha langauage and literature to their own people and to the outside world each year, the Indigenous Lepcha Association, Illam, Nepal, has done a marvellous, superb job in the preservation, maintenance and development of the Lepcha language and literature on their own in Nepal.
The Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association, Headquarters Kalimpong, recognising their ourstanding work for the preservation, maintenance and development of the Lepcha language and literature in Illam, Nepal, ‘Aathing K. P. Tamsang Lepcha Language and Literary Award’ for the year 2009 was conferred to the ‘Indigenous Lepcha Association, Illam, Nepal’. It is the most prestigious award in the Lepcha world.
The Award carries a citation and Rs 16,000.00 (Rupees sixteen thousand) cash prize.
Congratulations to the Indigenous Lepcha Association, Illam, Nepal.
A Senior Correspondent‘The Life Membership Award’
Reverend Father Felix D’Souza,
The Director, St Joseph’s School,
A true lover of the Lepcha language, literature and culture, Reverend Father Felix D,Souza, the Director, St Joseph’s School, Git-Dabling, Kalimpong, introduced the Lepcha language in his school way back in 2004 to his Lepcha students. He has also introduced the Lepcha culture to his Lepcha students. Today the Lepcha students at St Joseph’s School, Git-Dabling, are not only well versed in their language, literature and culture, they take great pride in being born as the original, indigenous Lepchas in the Darjeeling Hills.
Reverend Father Felix D’Souza, an enduring friend of the Lepchas, have helped to introduce the Lepcha language in the following schools also:
1. St. Mary’s School, Naok Hlo
2. St. Joseph’s School,Tanyang
3. St. Joseph’s School, Nimbong
Through his unfailing support, the Lepcha language, literature and culture is flourishing in the Git-Dabling area, Kalimpong. Reverend Father Felix D’Souza is more Lepcha than most Lepchas.
The Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association, Headquarters Kalimpong, recognising, acknowledging and admiring Reverend Father Felix D’Souza’s outstanding work in the field of Lepcha language, literature and culture and its preservation, conservation, and development, the ‘Life Membership’ of the Association was conferred, accorded to him.
Heartiest congratulations to you, Ren Felix D’Souza.
A Senior Correspondent
Upper Pochaok Lepcha Village Association
Celebrates Aathing K. P. Tamsang Birth Anniversary
The Upper Pochaok Lepcha Village Association celebrated the Birth Anniversary of Aathing K.P.Tamsang, a renowned Lepcha scholar, linguist and thinker, on 19 January 2010 at Upper Pochaok, Git-Dabling, Kalimpong.
The Lepcha students from different Lepcha Night Schools in Git-Dabling area participated in the function and presented interesting and educative programmes based on the life of Aathing K. P. Tamsang and Lepcha language and literature.
The Upper Pochaok Lepcha Village Association also released their annual magazine, ‘Aathing K. P. Tamsang Souvenir 2010’. It is good to report that the Lepcha Language Teachers and their students write and contribute articles, poems and one-act plays based on the Lepcha culture, tradition, customs and the present day Lepchas’ struggle in their own home land. Ren Suksing Kongchhyen Lepcha, the Head Teacher of Upper Pochaok Lepcha Night School, is the editor.
For your information, the revised second edition of Aathing K. P. Tamsang’s famous book, Lepcha-English Encyclopedic Dictionary, was recently published with the financial help from Ren Michael Way of England.
Both the Upper Pochaok Lepcha Village Association and the Lepcha Night School are to be warmly congratulated for their outstanding work in the conservation, maintenance and development of the Lepcha language, literature and culture. Following the foot-steps of Aathing K. P. Tamsang, the Lepchas of remote Upper Pochaok Lepcha village have become one of the leading exponents of Lepcha language, literature and cultural heritage in Mayel Lyang.
A Staff ReporterBharat Bhasha Confluence at Baroda, Gujarat
8,9, and 10 March 2010
What is ‘Bharat Bhasha confluence’? A gist from the letter addressed to Ren Lyangsong Tamsang Lepcha, President, Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association, Headquarters Kalimpong, from Shri Ganesh Devy, Founder Trustee Bhasha Research and Publication Centre, Baroda, Gujarat, on the Indian languages and especially tribal languages and how people can collectively create a sustained strategy and platform for the preservation of India’s language diversity is quoted below.
‘The Bhasha Research and Publication Centre was founded in Baroda in 1996 with a view to battling the erosion of “Bhasha’ and for conservation of oral traditions in the Bhasas of marginalised communities. One feels pained to see how many Indian languages have become extinct and how rapidly! In the Census Report of 1961, a total of 1652 mother tongues were mentioned. Several hundred of these are no longer traceable. If we continue to allow the dwindling of the ‘Bhashas’at this rate, it is estimated that over the next fifty years, we will see the extinction of most of the ‘Bhashas’ spoken by the nomadic communities and tribes, just as we will witness a large scale erosion of some of the main ‘Bhashas’ that have a rich history of written literature”. Unquote.
The Bharat Bhasha Confluence, a massive gathering of linguists, scholars, heads of Linguistics Government institutions, tribal leaders and others was organised by the Bhasha Research and Publication Centre, and it was held on 8,9, and 10 March 2010 in Baroda, Gujarat. The following persons representated the Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association, Headquarters Kalimpong, West Bengal:
Ren N T Lepcha - Joint Secretary,
Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association, Headquarters Kalimpong
Ren Rumden Lepcha - Joint Secretary,
Lepcha Youth Association, Headquarters Kalimpong
Hundreds of renowned scholars, linguists, Government officials representing the Indian languages and tribal leaders from various parts of the country very much appreciated, admired and acknowledged the Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association’s commendable work on the conservation of their very rich and ancient Lepcha language, literature and culture on their own without any assistance and help from the Government of West Bengal and Central Government of India. The Lepcha delegates to the conference also learnt much and brought back new ideas to enhance on the preservation, maintenance and development of their language, Lepcha, in the Darjeeling District, West Bengal.
Thank you Bhasha Research and Publication Centre, Baroda, for enlightening our minds and thoughts further and deeper on the conservation of our language, Lepcha.
By a Staff CorrespondentRenyoo Aazem Rebecca Namchyoomoo
Lepcha Folk Songs and Dance Competition
6th March 2010
The Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association, Headquarters Kalimpong, in collaboration with M. Way Charitable Trust, UK, organised the Renyoo Aazem Rebecca Namchyoomoo Lepcha Songs and Dance competition on 6th March 2010 and it was held at the newly built Lepcha Hall, Lower Bom, Kalimpong.
Renyoo Aazem Rebecca Namchyoo Lepcha, an ex- President of the Indigenous Lepcha Association, Headquarters Kalimpong, in 1950s, who has done stalwart work for the preservation, maintenance and development of the Lepcha cultural heritage, the Annual Lepcha Folk Songs and Dance Competition is dedicated to her fond memory. She is a constant source of inspiration to the Lepcha communiity in the Darjeeling Hills, West Bengal.
The aim and objective of organising the Lepcha Folk Songs and Dance Competition was to revive and foster the ancient traditional Lepcha folk songs, dance and music for posterity in Mayel lyang.
The Chief Guest of the day was Ren Michael Way, England.
The Lepcha youth and children from remote Lepcha villages participated in the competition and it is really heartening to report that 17(seventeen) Native English Language Teachers from England and elsewhere also participated in the event. It was amazing to see them sing Lepcha folk songs and dance to the old Lepcha tune. They looked beautiful in their traditional Lepcha dresses.
The following Lepcha Village Associations and an institution were declared the winners:
Lower Byaong Lepcha Village Association Kalimpong - First
Naok Hlo Lepcha Village Association, Kalimpong - Second
St Joseph’s School, Git - Dabling, Kalimpong - Third
We congratulate them all on their excellent performances.
Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Guest of the day, Ren Michael Way, England, stressed on the importance of the very rich and ancient Lepcha culture and its immense value not only to the Lepchas but to the world at large. He also made an important announcement to the Lepchas on the occasion; he announced that a Lepcha Cultural Troupe will particiapte in an International Folk Songs and Dance Competition in Great Britain in 2011. He added that this will give an opportunity for the origional indigenous Lepchas to show their rich and ancient culture in an international stage.
Ren Micheal Way is presently arranging and organising the administrative support for the Lepcha artists’ movement and participation in the International Folk Songs and Dance Competition in Great Britain.
Renyoo Hildamit Lepcha, Sangeet Natak Akademi Awardee, the Guest of Honour, also spoke on the Lepcha folk songs and dances. She greeted the Lepchas and the Chief Guest of the day, Ren Michael Way, with an emotional ‘Apryaa Vom’, a classical Lepcha folk song, and briefed the young aspiring Lepcha folk singers and dancers with examples on the stage to improve upon their singing and dancing skills and presentation.
It is good to report here that the ancient Lepcha folk songs and dances are still alive and well. The Lepcha youths and children are demonstrating their love and respect for their Lepcha folk songs and dances today and we are certainly optimistic that the impact of modernization and globalization on the Lepcha culture especially Lepcha folk songs and dances will be minimal. Renyoo Aazem Rebecca Namchyoomoo Lepcha Folk Songs and Dance Competition is a deliberate step in this direction.
A Senior CorrespondentM.Way Charitable Trust, UK, and its development work for the Original Indigenous Lepchas of West Bengal.
Personally observing and seeing with his own eyes the very neglected condition and position of the original and indigenous Lepcha race of the Darjeeling Hills, West Bengal, Ren Michael Way of M. Way Charitable Trust, UK, has very seriously undertaken the development work in the Darjeeling Hills for the Lepchas. Some of the projects as follows for the Lepchas in remote Lepcha villages have either been successfully completed or are presently in progress:
1. Several clean drinking water schemes
2. Renovation and thatching of 34 traditional Lepcha houses in their natural and traditional conditions in Kalimpong
3. Purchasing of thatch grass lands for the traditional Lepcha houses in order to keep them in their natural condition.
4. Dispensaries in remote Lepcha villages.
5. Publication of Lepcha text books, journals etc. including a huge ‘Lepcha - English Encyclopedic Dictionary’.
6. Tearchers Trainings for the untrained Lepcha Language Teachers working in the Lepcha Night Schools.
7. Distribution of stationery, Lepcha text books and teaching aids materials to the 40+ Lepcha Night Schools in the Darjeeling Hills.
8. Additional Couching Classes for aspiring Lepcha students sitting for the Madhyamik final examination.
9. International Lepcha Language and Literary Seminar - organising of
10. Staging of a huge Lepcha Folk Songs and Dance Competition.
11. The Lepcha Poets’ Meet
12. Lepcha artists participation in an International Folk Songs and Dance Competition in Great Britain. For the the first time, to keep the record straight, the Lepchas are being taken overseas to participate in such prestigeous event in 2011.
13. And other miscelleneous projects.
On behalf of the downtrodden original, indigenous Lepcha tribes of West Bengal, the Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association, Headquarters Kalimpong, thank Ren Michael Way for his kindness and overwhelming generosity. Through his unfailing support, the Lepchas in remote villages now can see the light at the end of the tunnel. A big ‘Aachuley!’ to Ren Michael Way of England.
A Senior CorrespondentTeachers’ Training
for the Lepcha Language Teachers
27 and 28 March 2010
This was the second consecutive Teachers’ Training for the Lepcha Language Teachers working in the Lepcha Night School in remote Lepcha villages in the Darjeeling Hills, West Bengal. It was held on 27 and 28 March 2010 at the Lepcha Hall, Lower Bom, Kalimpong. The first Teachers’ Training was held on 31st October and 1 November 2009 at St. Joseph’s School, Git-Dabling, Kalimpong. M. Way Charitable Trust, UK, in collaboration with the Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association, Headquarters Kalimpong, organised the Teachers’ Training and a very experienced teacher, Mrs Carolyn Way from England and her friends from Gandhi Ashram, Kalimpong, Ren Pemba Lepcha, Mrs Usha Kumai and Mr Anil Chhetri conducted the Teachers’ Training. New ideas, methods, skills and techniques of teaching and instruction were given to the untrained Lepcha Language Teachers and they, in turn, understood, assimilated the teachings. The Lepcha Language Teachers certainly benefitted much from it
At the end of the training, certificates were given away to the successful Lepcha Language Teachers by Mrs Carolyn Way.
The Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association, Headquarters Kalimpong, is very grateful to Ren Micheal Way and Mrs Carolyn Way, England, for championing the Lepcha cause. Through such series of trainings to the Lepcha Language Teachers, the ancient Lepcha language, literature and culture will remain alive and well in the Darjeeling Hills, West Bengal.
-A staff reporter
Lepcha Language Teachers’ Training
I was very happy to accept the invitation from Ren Lyangsong Tamsang, President of the Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association, Headquarters Kalimpong, to help with the training of many untrained Lepcha language teachers.
The course took place over the weekend of March 27-28th and it was held in the ‘Lepcha Hall’, Lower Bom, Kalimpong.
The training consisted of two full days, of concentrated lectures, and was aided by three qualified teachers from Gandhi Ashram School. They were Pemba Lepcha, Mr. Anil and Mrs Usha. Our excellent interpreter was Mr. Topden Lepcha.
The aim of the weekend was to show new methds of teaching and class room environment and organisation, along side their unique cultural heritage. The teachers were very diligent and participated in all the activities they were shown.
The course was very well attended by seventy three Lepcha teachers. They travelled great distances to attend, some coming as far away as the Nepal border.
The teachers showed great enthusiasm during the course, and I was very pleased to hand out seventy three pass certificates at the close of the final day. Aathing Sando Tshering Tamsang
Traditional Lepcha Archery Contest
3 April 2010
Aathing Sando Tshering Tamsang Traditional Lepcha Archery Contest was held on 3 April 2010 at Lower Bom, Kalimpong. It was organised by the Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association, Headquarters Kalimpong. Aathing Sando Tshering Tamsang was the Founder President of Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association, Headquarters Kalimpong in 1925. Owing to his vision and far--sightedness, today, the original indigenous Lepcha tribes of Darjeeling Hills,West Bengal, have a very strong sense of direction, unity, dignity and pride in their cultural heritage. In the fond memory of Aathing Sando Tshering Tamsang , the Annual Traditional Lepcha Archery Contest is dedicated. The aim and objective of the contest is:
1. To encourage the Lepcha youths, both male and female, to take traditional Lepcha archery as a sport and to do well in the national and international archery contests.
2.To preserve the tradition and culture of the indigenous Lepcha tribes.
3.To bring and unite the Lepcha youths from all walks of life under one roof.
The Chief Guest of the day was Ren Tendup Tshering Lama of Kurseong and he was accompanied by his lovely wife, Renyoo Uma Lama.
Renyoo Carolyn Way from England was the Guest of Honour on the day.
The Native English Language Teachers (AVs), 17 of them, currently working and teaching English in the Lepcha Night Schools in remote Lepcha villages, Kalimpong, also participated in the contest.
The following Lepcha Village Association teams were declared the winners:-
1st - Poyong Lepcha Village Association, Kalimpong (Champion Trophy and Rs. 5000.00 cash prize )
2nd - Mongvaol Lepcha Village Association, Kalimpong (Rs. 3000.00 cash prize and a Trophy)
3rd- Git- Kolbong Lepcha Village Association, Kalimpong (Rs. 2000.00 cash prize and a Trophy )
Sharp Shooter of the day - E. Lepcha, Poyong Lepcha Village Association, Kalimpong (Rs. 1000.00 and a Trophy)
The Native English Language Teachers from England were presented with Lepcha Souvenirs.
The Annual Aathing Sando Tshering Tamsang Traditional Lepcha Archery Contest on 3 April 2010 was a grand success.
Lepcha Poets’ Meet
The Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association, Headquarters Kalimpong, in collaboration with M. Charitable Trust, UK, organised the Lepcha Poets’ Meet on 7 April 2010 at the Lepcha Hall, Lower Bom, Kalimpong. 27 Lepcha poets from Kalimpong, Mamring (Kurseong), Mangan, Tashiding, Namchi and Namthang (Sikkim) participated in the Meet. The Lepcha students, five of them, from St. Joseph’s School, Git-Dabling, Kalimpong, also participated in the Meet.
Their poems were mainly based on the following topics:
a. Mayel Lyang, the Lepcha Land
b. Mother nature, environment, ecology and surroundings
c. Lepcha language, literature and cultural heritage
Poems based on Mayel Lyang, the Lepcha Land, mainly reflected on the present deplorable condition of the Lepchas and the need to unite and work hard towards their salvation. It was not surprising to note that most Lepcha poets on the day reflected and presented their inner thoughts on the wretched, deplorable socio-economic and political conditions of the Lepchas in their own home land, Mayel Lyang. Raising their voices against the marginalisation, injustice, of the Lepchas for many generation in their own home land, the poets unanimously called upon the Lepchas from all walks of life to wake-up, rise from their slumber and fight back unitedly against the repression and injustice.
Some to the Lepcha poets presented their inner thoughts on the present day deteriorating environment, ecology and surroundings also. Love for their ancient Lepcha langauage, literature and cultural heritage was another subject the Lepcha poets successfully covered during the Meet.
To keep the record straight, this was the first ever Lepcha Poets Meet organised in Mayel Lyang
The Chief Guest of the day, Renyoo Carolyn Way, England, spoke on the finer points of poetry in general and Lepcha poetry in particular and she recited one Lepcha and two English poems beautifully to reinforce her points. The Chief Guest of the day during her main speech said that she was very impressed with the high quality of Lepcha poetry and congratulated the Lepcha poets for their majestic poems. She added that poetry in their true sense reflect the truth.
Renyoo Carolyn Way was, on the occasion, recognised with the ‘Life Membership Award’ by the Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association, Headquarters Kalimpong, for her outstanding work for the benefit of the indigenous Lepcha tribes of Mayel Lyang.
The function was very efficiently conducted by Ren N. T. Lepcha, the Joint Secretary of the Association and a poet himself. Ren P. T. Lepcha, Bhasha Samman, presented the main theme speech on Lepcha poetry.
The Lepcha Poets’ Meet on 7 April 2010 was most successful.
A Senior ReporterLife Membership Award
Renyoo Carolyn Way, England
Renyoo Carolyn Way hails from New Castle, England, and she is very closely associated with the Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association, Headquarters Kalimpong, an apex body of the Lepcha tribes of West Bengal, for the last four years or so. Like her dynamic, kind and generous husband, Ren Michael Way, she helps the indigenous Lepchas of Darjeeling Hills, West Bengal, especially in the field of Lepcha language, literature and culture and is very much involved in the following fields:
1. ‘Naamtho-Naamthar’, the ancient Lepcha manuscripts
2. Lepcha Night Schools
3. Teachers’ Training for the untrained Lepcha Language Teachers working in the Lepcha Night Schools in remote Lepcha Vilages.
Attending and participating in the Lepcha functions, dressed in the traditional Lepcha dress, ‘Dum-dem’, she not only looks elegant and beautiful in it, she sends a clear message to the Lepchas at large to respect their own very rich and ancient Lepcha culture. She is more Lepcha than most Lepchas.
From now onwards, Carolyn Way shall be addressed by the Lepcha title, ‘Renyoo’. ‘Renyoo’ in Lepcha means a lady, a dignified and honourable lady, a cultured lady.
The, Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association, Headquarters Kalimpong thank Renyoo Carolyn Way for everything she is doing for the conservation, maintenance and development of the Lepcha language, literature and culture in Mayel Lyang.
The Life Membership Award was presented to Renyoo Carolyn Way by the President, Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association, Headquarters Kalimpong, during the Lepcha Poets’ Meets on 7 April 2010.
A Staff Reporter
A Staff Reporter