Darjeeling, the Queen of hills is most likely to have its origin from the two Tibetan words “Dorje” and “Ling” literally meaning the Land of Thunderbolt. This adorable hill station is well-known for its distinctive culture and tradition from rest of the other district towns of the state. Perhaps, it may be due to the ancestral culture of the British colonial era that has left a deep impact on its inhabitants.
Though Gorkhas form the majority of the inhabitants, the wonderful little hill town of Darjeeling is also inhabited by a number of other aboriginal tribal groups who have set their own set of culture. They are Tamangs, Sherpas, Bhutias, Lepchas, Gurungs, Limbu, and Rai. Apart from that, Anglo-Indians, Biharis, Bengalis, Marwaris, and Tibetans are also a few other communities who have made the town their home.
Darjeeling is a popular destination for many enthusiast travelers. You will see in Darjeeling a number of historical sightseeing places which include temples, monasteries, churches, etc. Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity are the three major religions followed at Darjeeling. Because most of the residents there are the Gorkhas, Hinduism ranks first, then comes Buddhism and Christianity at the end.
Nepali is the official language spoken in Darjeeling and in its sub-division areas like Mirik and Kurseong. Though Hindi and Bengali are predominant in the plains of Siliguri, still, this major dialect is also spoken in large areas for about more 80% of the hill population. Other ethnic dialects are Lepcha, Tamang, Dzongkha, Rai, Limbu, Sherpas, etc. Moreover, English is also a language preferred by most of its citizens.
The food culture of this hilly region is highly influenced by the Tibetan origin. A famous Tibetan delicacy that is cooked all over Darjeeling and which can be found at every restaurant and street stalls of the area is “Momo”. These are the steamed dumplings prepared from the minced meat or vegetable into flour dough. Another famous food item is called the “Thukpa” which is again of the Tibetan origin. Other than this, some popular cuisines that add to the town`s rich food culture are Alu dum, Shaphaaley, sel rotis, gundruk, churppi, sinki etc.
Music And Dancing in Darjeeling
Darjeeling is renowned for its famous Carnival event which is held during the winter season. This adorable little hill town is acclaimed as a centre for music lovers. Music is, in fact, a common recreation activity for the people of Darjeeling. The people here respect their traditions and feel pride in well-preserving the years old customs.
Coming to dance, the Nepalese communities have made Darjeeling their habitation with its varied culture of folk songs and dances. Maruni Dance, the oldest Nepali folk dance form is performed in the honour of Lord Ram returning to Ayodhya. Some other dance forms that are associated with the ethnic group of people are Jhankri Naach, Tamang Selo, Khukuri Naach, Yatra Naach, Sangini Naach and much more.
Art in Darjeeling
Alike food, art culture in Darjeeling is also greatly influenced by the Tibetan as well as Nepali traditions. It not only reflects their culture and traditions but also their respective religious faiths. Ornaments, paintings, khukuris, hand-made bags, jewellerys, traditional masks and many such more are highly appreciated by visitors coming to the hill station.
Traditional Clothing Of The Inhabitants Of Darjeeling
Varied ethnic groups of people in Darjeeling follow their respective traditional way of clothing. Nepalis being the major inhabitants, men dress in Daura Suruwal, Bhoto along with Dhaka Topi while women dress themselves in Dhaka Saree and Gunyu Choli. Lepcha group of communities thus follow a different clothing tradition; for men is Dumpra and for women is the ankle-length Dumdem. Tibetan women wear Bakhu over a long sleeve blouse, they also wrap a striped colored apron around their waist to indicate that they are married.
On a trip to this alluring hill station, you shall discover a simple yet unique way of life in Darjeeling.