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Lepcha and Bhutia Peoples (India)


Last modified: 2010-12-03 by ian macdonald
Keywords: lepchas | bhutia | sikkim | aspirant peoples |
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Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association

[Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association Flag] image by Chrystian Kretowicz and Eugene Ipavec, 13 February 2010

Róngkup (children of the Róng) or Mútuncí Róngkup Rumkup (beloved children of the Róng and of God)

Aboriginal people of Sikkim, also found in the Darjeeling District of West Bengal, the Ilam District of Nepal, southwestern Bhutan and Tibet. Numbering @ 50 000 and speaking a Tibeto-Butman language (Bodish-Himalayish)

The flag of the Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association, an organization of the Lepchas in the Indian State of West Bengal with the headquarters in Kalimpong (Darjeeling District), can be seen at: The logo of the Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association is presented at:, together with its constitution.
Chrystian Kretowicz, 6 February 2010


[Bhutia Flag] image by Chrystian Kretowicz and Eugene Ipavec, 13 February 2010

(In Sikkim: Denzongpa; In Bhutan: Dukpa)

"The Bhutia are ethnic Tibetans who speak a Tibetan Dialect fairly mutually intelligible to standard Tibetan. Their ancestors migrated to Sikkim, other parts of India and Bhutan some time after the 15th century. They migrated through the different passes ("La" in Tibetan) in the Himalayas. Geographical denotations in the name of Bhutias' last names is common. In Northern Sikkim for example, where the Bhutias are the majority inhabitants, they are known as the Lachenpas or Lachungpas, meaning inhabitants of Lachen or Lachung respectively. Similarly, the Bhutias of Sikkim as a whole can be denoted as Denzongpa, or inhabitants of Denzong, the Tibetan name for Sikkim.

The language spoken by the Bhutias in Sikkim is Sikkimese, which is 65% intelligible with either Tibetan or Dzongkha, the language of Bhutan, although in recent times Nepali is more widely spoken. Most Bhutias practice the Nyingmapa school, followed by the Kagyupa school of Tibetan Buddhism. The Bhutias are spread out over Nepal, Bhutan, and in the northern West Bengal, especially in the towns of Kalimpong and Darjeeling. Bhotey is also often used as a derogatory term, used by people of Nepali heritage to describe people of Tibetan heritage, although most Bhutias are better off economically and educationally among the various Himalayan communities including the Nepalese.

The ruling dynasty in Sikkim before the mid 1970s annexation by India, was a Bhutia and was from the Namgyal dynasty."

Both, Lepchas and Bhutias, lost their country (Sikkim) when the Indian-instigated, tremendous influx of the Nepalese illegal settlers overrun it, and, in 1975, the Nepalese voted to abolish the monarchy and incorporate Sikkim into India.

The flag of the Sikkim Bhutia Lepcha Apex Committee (SIBLAC), an organization dedicated to safeguard the rights of the indigenous population of Sikkim according to the 1973 agreements and the Article 371F of the Indian Constitution, is described as:
"The Sikkim Bhutia Lepcha Apex Committee has its own official flag with Saffron and golden colours diagonally intersected at 45 degree with the dharma chakra at the centre. The upper part has saffron colour representing Lhadui, the spiritual Assembly of the Bhutia Lepchas while the yellow, at the lower half symbolizes Medui, the Assembly of the laities. The golden coloured dharma chakra at the centre reminds one about the virtues act of all the sentient being that fulfills peace and prosperity to all in the six realms."
Chrystian Kretowicz, 6 February 2010