The Dance of the Snow Lion

It’s adventure time, folks! Join me for the Crochet Along Adventures CAL where we take you around the world and introduce you to fun, travel themed amigurumi characters that we have created for you. On this adventure with me are designers Lovloops, Lemon Yarn Creations, and hosts Whimsical Yarn Creations & Pink Tomato Crochet. Head over to www.crochetalongadventures.com for more details.

For this CAL, I’ll be taking you to Sikkim, a tiny Himalayan state located in North East India, where you’ll meet Singhi, the Snow Lion. This design was inspired by Singhi Chham [or the dance of the snow lion], a popular folk dance of Sikkim.

For the Sikkimese, the mythical snow lion represents the snowy range of Khangchendzonga, a mountain that is sacred to the locals. Fun Fact: Mount Khangchendzonga [or ‘Kanchenjunga’, as it is more commonly spelled] is the third highest peak in the world.

During the Singhi Chham, dancers don the snow lion costume and put on an exuberant, playful show. Each snow lion consists of two dancers, the first making up the head and the forelegs while the second dancer forms the torso and the hind legs.

This dance is performed during Pang Lhabsol, a festival dedicated to Mount Khangchendzonga. If you are lucky enough to be in Sikkim at the right time, you just might catch a pair of these mythical beasts dancing in the streets. 😁

The book featured in this photo is Khangchendzonga: Sacred Summit by Pema Wangchuk & Mita Zulca

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Friends from Sikkim: Red Panda

Sikkim’s got it right when it comes to choosing its state animal, the Red Panda. I mean, just look at it, it’s so cute! This small mammal—it is slightly larger than a domestic cat—was also the national animal of Sikkim back when it used to be a kingdom. This fiery animal is also where Mozilla’s browser Firefox got its name and logo from.

The Red Panda is also the official mascot of the annual Sikkim Red Panda Winter Carnival. In fact, there is a pretty big Red Panda sculpture right in the middle of the town in Gangtok, the state capital!

The Red Pandas are native to the eastern Himalayas. They live in high-altitude forests, and mostly survive on the tender leaves and shoots of bamboo. However, unlike Giant Pandas, they eat other foods [fruits, roots, eggs, and maybe a few insects] as well. Sadly, the Red Pandas are an at-risk species with fewer than 10,000 of these mammals left in the wild mostly due to habitat loss.

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.

Snow Invasion

I’d warned you about the possibilities of a snowmen invasion; I’d warned you they were coming. You just didn’t take me seriously, did you? 😉

Knitting snowmen in all shapes and sizes is my current OCD and I’m not ashamed to say it. And since I’m big on this gender equality thingy, I thought “Hey, it’s about time snowwoman stopped making ice blocks and came out of her igloo”. So, ladies and gentlemen who knit, I give you “KongChen”, the snowwoman.

KongChen, meaning ‘big stone’, is a Lepcha name for Mount Khangchendzonga. According to Lepcha folklore, Mother Creator Itbumoo fashioned the first Lepcha man and woman from the snow of this sacred mountain that is regarded by the Sikkimese as their guardian deity till this day.

With the addition of KongChen to the snow family, our snowman here can now finally change his Facebook relationship status from ‘single’ to ‘in a relationship’ 😀