Gangtok, Dec 7 (UNI) Elaborate prayers and Kagyed masked dances to honour Sikkim's guardian deity, Guru Dragmar, were today held at the Enchey Monastery here, ushering in the week long festivities in the state.
The religious event, worshipping Guru Dragmar, a warrior manifestation of Guru Padmasambhava, also indicated the end of the present year and offering prayers for prosperity in the ensuing year.
Monks from the monastery presented nine masked dances, including Chamche, Namdhing and Tagsho Balop, in various costumes to ward off evil spirits and pray for peace and prosperity in the coming year.
The elaborate mask dances are an external manifestation of their prayers and symbolise the victory of good over evil spirits.
It will conclude tomorrow after five days of chanting of mantras by the monks at the monastery.
Guru Dragmar Puja and the Kayged dances also ushered in the week long Losoong festival in Sikkim which signals the end of the present year and arrival of the New Year.
Losoong, a Sikkimese Bhutia word, denotes ''End of the Old Year and Beginning of the New Year.'' It marked the onset of the festive celebrations, beginning tomorrow, by the Sikkimese people, welcoming the New Year and offering their harvest produce to their deities and Mt Khangchendzonga.
On December 15 and 16, just after the Losoong ends, people in the state will observe the Nyenpa Guzom, a traditional practice when people usually stay indoors.
The two days of the Nyenpa Guzom are considered inauspicious as it signifies the gathering of ''Nine Bad Omens'' of Buddhist culture.