SHOPPING IN SIKKIM
Sikkim may be the smallest state by area, but it has a rich and an enchanting culture that is reflected through its jewellery, clothes and other ritual objects. It has all the necessary elements for the travellers to make a remarkable and unforgettable holiday trip. It is also recognised as a delightful shopping destination owing to the varied traditional or modern variables that represent the state.
WHAT TO SHOP FOR WHEN IN SIKKIM?
Found all over its cities, the prayer flags can be easily spotted fluttering in the air. Tibetans believe that the mantras inscribed on the flag will be blown by the wind into the atmosphere and spread goodwill into all pervading space. Hence, it adds a very peaceful vibe to your surroundings. You will find these colourful prayer flags in all sizes at possibly all souvenir shops and temple complexes.
Thangkas are religious scrolls. Richly fabricated and even embroidered sometimes, it stands as a strong symbol for compassion, strength and wisdom. They are found only in the Himalayan regions. Thangka is a miniature painting that depicts either the scenes from Buddha’s life, Bodhisattvas, Buddhist deities or the mystic Mandalas. They may turn out to be the costliest Sikkim souvenirs to pick but they are also the classiest.
This is something you may have seen in many Buddhist monasteries. It speaks volumes about the Tibetan therapy and the power and beauty of ‘Sound Healing’. Having mantras engraved on them, it holds in itself many petals of meditation, internal toning and the healing of mind and soul. It uses vibrational sounds to help in altering consciousness, reducing stress and most importantly creating a deep sense of peace and tranquillity.
A prayer wheel is a small cylinder carved in metal that is attached to a holding stick. It has a beaded thread hanging from it. You may even find a few prayer wheels that have precious stones on them. The prayer scrolls are kept inside the cylinder and you are supposed to rotate it in a clockwise direction. These too are supposed to send good and positive energy into the air when the holder rotates the wheel. When it moves with rhythm, it is a sight to behold. It is said that if you continue to focus on it, it can take you to a meditative state.
Dorjee Bell and Thunderbolt
These two mini brass artefacts can be easily spotted in most of the shops in Sikkim. The Dorjee Bell and Thunderbolt represent the male and female energies respectively and are typically placed together. It is known to destroy all kinds of evil and its nature itself is indestructible. The Thunderbolt is held in the left hand and the bell in the left and their interaction leads to enlightenment.
Sikkimese Traditional Dress
Dress up as a local or carry a significant piece of their culture back home as a souvenir. These traditional Sikkimese dresses are crafted in silk and brocade. Many have now started making them in a thicker fabric that is suited for the weather. Alternatively, you can also choose to just buy a Sikkimese cap. It could prove to be a nice accessory to own.
Apart from the blue and green stone necklaces and handcuffs, you must buy Ghau pendants and Akor earrings. Ghau pendants are an ornate box wherein you can store prayer scrolls. They are also used to keep relics of departed gurus or sacred herbs. The Akor earrings are traditionally worn by the Lhasa women. Its distinct identity is that the long earrings end in a lotus bud.
Sikkim has its own lovely tea estates. Temi tea is Sikkim’s biggest Tea brand that is sold and also exported largely along with other popular brands such as Kho-Cha and Golden Tips. This is a perfect gift to pick from Sikkim for others and also for yourself.
As soon as you think of Himalayas, vivid images of damrus and rudraksh will invade your mind. That is because it is home to Lord Shiva. The two-headed drum called damru is an hourglass-shaped instrument that can also be a beautiful memory to keep in your house temple.
Last but not the least, giant wooden masks can be spotted in the Buddhist monasteries to ward off the evil eye. It is an important asset of the rituals and ritual dances in Sikkim. Many tourists and travellers pick these up and hang it outside their homes to protect them from negative energies and evil spirits.