Bakhu and Pangden: A Glimpse into the World of Sikkim’s Traditional Attire

Spread India's Glorious Cultural & Spiritual Heritage


Nestled in the lap of the Himalayas, the northeastern Indian state of Sikkim is a treasure trove of diverse cultures, traditions, and natural beauty. Among its many cultural gems, the traditional attire of the Sikkimese people stands out prominently. The Bakhu and Pangden are the quintessential Sikkimese garments, donned by women and men, respectively. These garments are not only an embodiment of the region’s rich heritage but also a testament to the exquisite artistry of Sikkimese craftsmanship.

The Bakhu: Elegance in Threads

The Bakhu is the traditional dress of Sikkimese women, renowned for its timeless elegance and intricate embroidery. This exquisite attire consists of several components, each of which adds to its unique charm:

  1. Pangden: The central piece of the Bakhu ensemble is the Pangden, a beautifully woven and embroidered wrap-around skirt. The Pangden comes in various vibrant colors, often depicting intricate traditional motifs. These designs often tell stories of Sikkimese culture and are passed down through generations.
  2. Honju: The upper garment, known as the Honju, is a full-sleeved blouse, typically made of silk or cotton. It features delicate embroidery along the neck, sleeves, and hem, adding a touch of grace and refinement to the outfit.
  3. Mantikka: Completing the Bakhu attire is the Mantikka, a headdress adorned with silver jewelry and beads. The Mantikka holds cultural significance and is an emblem of a Sikkimese woman’s marital status. It is worn with pride, reflecting the wearer’s connection to her roots.

The Pangden: A Glimpse into Sikkimese Masculinity

While the Bakhu is a symbol of femininity, the Pangden is its male counterpart, reflecting the traditional masculinity of Sikkimese men. The Pangden ensemble is a testament to simplicity and grace, comprised of the following elements:

  1. Pangden: Like the female Pangden, the male version is a wrap-around skirt. It is generally solid-colored and made of wool, making it a warm and practical garment for the Himalayan climate.
  2. Kho: The upper garment is called Kho and is a half-sleeved shirt made from comfortable and durable materials. While it lacks the ornate embroidery of the Bakhu’s Honju, it still features subtle details that make it a unique part of the traditional Sikkimese attire.
  3. Bhokchu: Completing the Pangden ensemble is the Bhokchu, a cap adorned with decorative elements. The Bhokchu serves both functional and aesthetic purposes, keeping the head warm in the chilly mountain air while adding a touch of tradition to the outfit.

Intricate Embroidery: A Labor of Love

What truly sets the Bakhu and Pangden apart is the labor-intensive and artistic embroidery that adorns these garments. The skilled artisans of Sikkim invest hours of meticulous work into crafting these intricate designs. These patterns often feature local flora, fauna, and mythological symbols, adding a layer of cultural richness to the attire.

The embroidery not only showcases the artistic prowess of the Sikkimese people but also serves as a means of storytelling and cultural preservation. Each stitch is a thread connecting the wearer to their heritage, reminding them of the values, traditions, and stories that define their identity.

Preserving a Rich Heritage

In the face of modernization and changing fashion trends, Sikkimese people remain dedicated to preserving their rich cultural heritage, including the Bakhu and Pangden. These traditional garments are not just clothing; they are symbols of identity and a source of pride for the people of Sikkim.

Efforts to promote these traditional attires have included fashion shows, cultural festivals, and educational initiatives aimed at passing down the art of embroidery to younger generations. Sikkimese men and women continue to wear their Bakhu and Pangden proudly during special occasions, festivals, and celebrations, ensuring that their cultural legacy lives on.


The Bakhu and Pangden, the traditional attire of Sikkim, are more than just clothing; they are a reflection of the region’s rich cultural tapestry and artistic craftsmanship. These garments are a source of pride and identity for the Sikkimese people, and they continue to play a significant role in preserving the state’s unique heritage.

As we admire the intricate embroidery and timeless elegance of the Bakhu and Pangden, we also gain a deeper appreciation for the cultural diversity and resilience of Sikkim. These traditional dresses remind us that the threads of tradition, artistry, and identity can be woven together to create something truly beautiful and enduring.

Spread India's Glorious Cultural & Spiritual Heritage

By Mala Chandrashekhar

Introducing Blogger Mala Chandrashekhar - a specialist academically trained in modern Western sciences, yet deeply enamored with India's timeless ethnic arts, crafts, and textiles. Her heart beats for the rich and glorious cultural and spiritual heritage of India, and she has dedicated her entire blog to spreading the immortal glories of ancient India worldwide. Through her simple yet impactful blog posts, Mala aims to reach every nook and corner of the globe, sharing India's beauty and wisdom with the world.

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