When to go: The Samthar Seasonal cycle
In June- July, life in the community revolves around the monsoons and the sowing of the paddy crop – the life giver. The monsoons start during early June and continue till end September. The heavy down pour is utilized for flooding the terraced paddy fields. Lush greenery all rounds and banks of cloud formations moving across the valleys, rising and drifting, are sights to remember., The transplanting of seedlings is done in Jul. Sowing is a big occasion entire families participate on a cooperative basis to overcome the manpower shortage.
Maize and the mother plants of the Ginger crop are harvested and Kodo – the black millet used primarily to make chang beer and some types of pulses and beans for domestic consumption are planted.
Aug: It is time for weeding of paddy and Kodo crop – a back breaking job. The maize crop is harvested
Sept: Weeding of crops continues
Oct- Nov: By the end of September the monsoons come to a stop. Oct has days of mellow weather with some showers.
Oct is also the festival season. Durga Puja followed by Tihar (Diwali) are the two main festivals of the Hindu Nepalese. In preparation for Dashain every home is cleansed and beautifully decorated, painted as an invitation to Godess Durga and Laxmi, so that they may visit and bless the house with good fortune. During this time family members assemble from far & near to be together. Gifts of new clothing, and supplies of temple offering for the gods, as well as foodstuffs for the family feasting, are purchased. Sheep, goats, ducks, chicken and even water buffalo are prepared for the sacrifice.
Dashain (Durga puja)
Dashain comprises fifteen days of celebration during the lunar fortnight ending on the day of the full moon. Goddess Durga in all her manifestations is worshiped with innumerable pujas, abundant offerings and animal sacrifices.
Dashain commemorates a great victory of the gods over the wicked demons. One of the victory stories told is the Ramayan, where the lord Ram after a big struggle slaughtered Ravana, the king of demons. It is said that lord Ram was successful in the battle only when goddess Durga was evoked. The main celebration glorifies the triumph of good over evil and is symbolized by goddess Durga slaying the terrible demon Mahisasur, who terrorized the earth in the guise of a brutal water buffalo. The first nine days signify the nine days of battle between goddess Durga and the demon Mahisasur. The tenth day is the day when Mahisasur was slain and the last five days symbolize the celebration of the victory with the blessing of the goddess.
In Nov the paddy and Kodo millet is harvested
Dec – Jan: This is the cold spell with generally clear weather and blue skies with occasional periods of foggy conditions due to snow in the higher regions
In Dec X-mas is celebrated by the Lepcha Christian community with the usual rituals and festivities to celebrate the birth day of Lord Jesus. The Lepcha New Year called Namsong is celebrated by the Lepchas. with prayers, feasting, archery competitions and more.
December is also time to sow Potatoes, spinach and some other vegetables.
In Jan People go out on picnics, and outings. It is also time to collect the firewood for the year.
Feb – March: Winter still lingers on. Usually the weather is clear but visibility remains a bit hazy due to dust from the plains. Snow fall in the higher regions brings cold spells in its wake. There are occasional short spells of rain and hail in Feb- Mar
Spring flowers start blooming. Evergreen forests get new leaves. There is bird song in the air
Water springs start drying up and there is an acute shortage of water.
In Feb the Buddhist New year called Losar is celebrated by Buddhist Lepchas and Bhutias with prayers, song , dance and feasting.
In Feb the mustard and potatoe crop is harvested
In March Maize & Ginger crop is planted
Apr- May: In April the pre -monsoon weather prevails. Thunder shower occur in the evenings with spectacular display of lightning across the sky accompanied by furious thunder, heralding the arrival of summer. The weeding of Maize and ginger crop takes place.
May has warm days, followed by short bursts of rain the evenings Preparations for planting paddy start in May, with ploughing and planting of seedlings. Paddy fields are rebuilt by refilling soil and repairing water dykes and channels. The farmers and oxen toil hard in the hot sun and pray for timely rains.