Friends from Sikkim: Blood Pheasant

I know I don’t post very often but this year I’ve plans to take you on a journey to my home state with my Friends from Sikkim amigurumi series. Kicking off this series will be this cute little birdie.

Blood pheasant, also known as blood partridge, is a bird found in eastern Himalayas. It was once the national bird of the former kingdom of Sikkim. Though Sikkim became a part of India in the mid-1970s, the blood pheasant continues to retain its status as Sikkim’s state bird.

In one of the popular folklores of the Lepcha people [the indigenous inhabitants of Sikkim], this spectacular bird plays an important role. Teesta and Rangeet—the two major rivers in Sikkim that originate from the Himalayan glaciers—were lovers. One day, these two river spirits decided to race down to the lowlands and, upon meeting there, move onwards to the plains together. When Teesta [the female river spirit] won the race, ashamed by his defeat Rangeet [the male river spirit] turned around to return home in a fit of rage. Distressed by her lover’s reaction, Teesta decided to follow him. Their vigorous currents ended up submerging and destroying everything in their path.  

As the water level continued to rise, the Lepcha people climbed to the top of Tendong Hill to save themselves from the great flood. Seeing her children in distress, the Mother Creator took the form of a blood pheasant and rescued them from the great deluge. In another version of the lore, it is the blood pheasant that makes an offering to the Mother Creator to appease her and pleads for mercy on behalf of the people.

To this day, the Lepchas of Sikkim celebrate Tendong Lho Rum Faat, an annual festival that commemorates the day they were saved on Mount Tendong.

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