The Lepcha religion


The central religious roles in the Lepcha community are traditionally occupied by the mun and bóngthíng, who both function as shamans. The bóngthíng is traditionally a male shaman who presides at recurring religious ceremonies and seasonal festivals and may heal acute illness. The mun, often but not necessarily a female shaman, is a healer who exorcises demons, helps to heal illness and guides souls to the afterlife. It is possible for a bóngthíng to develop into a mun, in Sikkim such healers are known as padem.

In the eighteenth century, the Lepcha people were converted to Buddhism, although indigenous Lepcha shamanism managed to coexist with Buddhist customs and beliefs. Both Buddhist lamas and Lepcha bóngthíngs preside at many important ceremonies in Lepcha life, each to perform their own rituals. Since the middle of the nineteenth century, in the Darjeeling district a significant number of Lepcha people have converted to Christianity.

 Information on this site
Despite the attention the Lepcha people have received by researchers since the middle of the nineteenth century, many aspects of the Lepcha language and culture remain undescribed.
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A detailed bibliography can be found here.
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The Lepcha have their own indigenous script which dates back to the 18th century.
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The tashe sung 'Story of Lord Tashe' is considered to be the pivotal masterpiece of Lepcha literature.
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The Lepcha myths, legends, fables and tales that have been orally transmitted throughout the centuries are known as lúngten sung.
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The central religious roles in the Lepcha community are traditionally occupied by the mun and bóngthíng.
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This site is an initiative of Heleen Plaisier.
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