6. Unearthing the Narratives of the Róngkups of Sikkim: From Vernacular Alternatives to Institutionalised Beliefs
Reep P. Lepcha [+]
Nar Bahadur Bhandari Government College, Sikkim
This chapter explores the narratives of the Róngkups who are autochthonous to Sikkim. The Róngkups have relied on oral transmission of their cultural and religious values, as is the practice with most indigenous communities. Today, Sikkim’s population is ethnically diverse, as a result of which the indigenous Róngkups have become a minority and stand marginalised. I plan to deliberate on the narratives in circulation among the Róngkups that register many of these cultural exchanges and influences. In addition, there are several narratives that have gained importance over time owing to existing historiographical tendencies that portray some factions of ethnic communities in a better light compared to the rest. These narratives on being endorsed by the state edge into institutionalised beliefs and practices that are celebrated with much fanfare in the state. Further, the nuanced indigenous narratives are gradually overshadowed and end up losing their narrative space, and with it a means of asserting their vernacular beliefs, cultural values, and identity. In the wake of such observations, I feel it was necessary to examine versions of the indigenous narratives through an emic lens. I will be applying a self-reflexive approach to traverse the layers of meaning-making and identity assertion currently in practice.