Lepcha Narratives of their Threatened Sacred Landscapes

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Kerry Little


Dorjee Tshering Lepcha rises with the sun each morning. He walks out of his living room into the crisp early air and enters a small prayer room. The room is sparsely decorated, an altar on one side and a cushion and small stool on the other. The altar is modestly adorned with leaves, flowers and fruit. Dorjee sits cross-legged on the floor, the cushion softening the impact of the cold concrete, and places the manuscript for a Lepcha prayer on a small stool in front of him. To his side, he rests a bamboo flute. First he chants; the morning chant to Mother Nature, informing her that he will surely intrude on her that day and asking her forgiveness in advance. Then he lifts the flute to his mouth and gently blows a welcome to the new day, its melancholy sound sending an apology simple and pure; its sincerity clear. In his village, Manegumboo, at 12th Mile in Kalimpong, the same ritual is taking place in seven of the 30 households. For these are animist homes, where the Children of Mother Nature live.

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