Royal High­land Fes­ti­val brings high­land com­mu­ni­ties to­gether

Bhutan Times - - Home - Lhakpa Tsh­er­ing

The first Royal High­land Fes­ti­val was held from 16 to 18 Oc­to­ber. It brought to­gether all high­land com­mu­ni­ties of Bhutan in Laya vil­lage.

The fes­ti­val was a unique op­por­tu­nity for visi­tors to Bhutan, as well as the Bhutanese, to ex­pe­ri­ence the high­land way of life.

The fes­ti­val en­ables the high­land com­mu­ni­ties to so­cial­ize and ex­change their cul­ture her­itages. And for the out­siders, it was per­haps the best way to ex­pe­ri­ence the amaz­ing cul­ture of high­land com­mu­ni­ties.

Dawa Dendup, 49, from Lingzhi said, “This fes­ti­val is an ab­so­lutely un­for­get­table cel­e­bra­tion of the cul­ture and re­li­gion of high­land.”

Yak herders from Haa, Paro, Thim­phu, Gasa, Wang­duepho­drang, Trongsa, Bumthang, Lhuntse, Tashigang, and Tashi Yangtse dis­played their an­i­mal prod­ucts dur­ing the fes­ti­val.

Hun­dreds of peo­ple across the coun­try gath­ered at the fes­ti­val and it was a chance to ex­pe­ri­ence a dif­fer­ent world, of yak-fur tents, their tra­di­tional songs, dances, and the liv­ing cul­tural her­itage of the high­lands.

Ap Norku, 55, from Merak said the fes­ti­val brought hap­pi­ness to the high­land com­mu­ni­ties. “While we live in multi-cul­tural so­ci­eties there must be a need to learn about other cul­tures and re­li­gions,” he said, adding that it would be ad­vis­able to un­der­stand some of the tra­di­tions.

Be­sides, the com­mu­ni­ties show­cased their dogs, strong­est cou­ple con­tests, horse and yak shows, horse rac­ing and cul­tural pro­gramme by stu­dents and high­land com­mu­ni­ties.

Laya Gewog won the prize in horse rac­ing while Merak-Sak­teng se­cured se­cond. Dorji Wangchuk and his part­ner from Pazhi Chi­wog won the price in the strong­est man com­pe­ti­tion on the fi­nal day.

The lottery prizes such as bows, yaks, ruck­sacks, mo­bile phones, tents, and air ticket to Bangkok, among oth­ers, were pro­vided to the peo­ple of high­land com­mu­ni­ties.

The three-day first live­stock fes­ti­val brought op­por­tu­ni­ties to earn from home stays owned by the Laya vil­lagers. All visi­tors, in­clud­ing min­is­ters, were lodged in home stays ex­cept for some of­fi­cials and tourists.

Thinly Dem, 58, from Pazhi vil­lage said that the high­land fes­ti­vals are big busi­ness. She ex­pects the home to re­main cen­ters of com­merce. “There is money to be made in the fes­ti­vals, for some pro­mot­ers of our liv­ing,” she said.

While mak­ing money from home would bring a new life to the vil­lagers. Thin­ley Dem said tourist trekkers are paid Nu.150 per night which is very low.

His Majesty graced the in­au­gu­ral edi­tion of the fes­ti­val on 17 Oc­to­ber and also vis­ited the homes to meet the peo­ple liv­ing in scat­tered houses in the vil­lage.

On gen­tle hills above the Laya vil­lage, fes­ti­val venue lies at an al­ti­tude of 4,000m above sea level where the stalls were housed in tra­di­tional woolen tent. The Laya vil­lage is lo­cated at an al­ti­tude of 3,800m above sea level.

The fes­ti­val was jointly or­ga­nized by the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture and Forests, and Gasa Dzongkhag to pro­mote the sus­tain­able liveli­hood of high­land com­mu­ni­ties.

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