Bringing communities together
The first Royal Highland Festival was held from 16 to 18 October in Laya. 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.
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.
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 Bang- kok, 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.
While making money from home would bring a new life to the villagers. Tourist trekkers are paid Nu.150 per night which is very low.
The 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.
As the festival concludes the main aim of the festival was to bring the highlanders together and know them well.
It will just be the beginning and with the organization of more of such events, we will know each other well and will help in fostering peace and harmony in the society. Not only that the highlanders felt the importance given to them and will renew their efforts in carrying out the developments activities in their area.
A slight improvement in their life style will have enormous effects in the overall development of our country. We cannot not ignore them as they are part of us too.