2nd Royal high­land fes­ti­val is a cel­e­bra­tion of un­for­get­table cul­ture and reli­gion

Bhutan Times - - Front Page - Sonam Pen­jor/Gasa

The sec­ond edi­tion of Royal High­land Fes­ti­val in Laya will start from to­mor­row and will be one of the most unique fes­ti­vals in the world which gives a rich ex­pe­ri­ence of the high­lander’s no­madic life style. Around 1500 Layaps and about 500 from out­side are ex­pected to at­tend the fes­ti­val or­ga­nized by Gasa Dzongkhag.

It’s will also be a life- time op­por­tu­ni­ties for the visi­tors and Bhutanese to ex­pe­ri­ence the life in the high­land of Bhutan and learn about the re­silience beauty of the high­land cul­ture and peo­ple.

The unique of this fes­ti­val will be the “Laya Run” which cov­ers a stretch of 25km at the el­e­va­tion range of 3850m ap­prox­i­mately takes an or­di­nar­ily man eight hours to com­plete at walk­ing pace.

The run will be flag off from Pon­jothang and ends at the fes­ti­val ground in Laya and fol­lowed by an­nual lo­cal fes­ti­val known as Au­ley. The fes­ti­val will be held in Lan­gothang which is about 4100 m above the sea level.

The Royal High­land Fes­ti­val cel­e­brates the unique cul­tural her­itage and legacy of the high­land com­mu­ni­ties

of Bhutan amongst the soar­ing Hi­malayan peaks of the pris­tine en­vi­ron­ment of Laya.

In an email in­ter­view with BT Gasa Dzongdag Dorji Dhrad­hul said that the main ob­jec­tive of or­ga­niz­ing the Royal High­land Fes­ti­val is to high­light the im­por­tance of the high­landers and their life­style for the na­tion’s so­cial, po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic well be­ing and se­cu­rity.

The sec­ond ob­jec­tive is to con­duct stake­holder con­sul­ta­tion for the de­vel­op­ment of high­lands and high­lander’s yak based liveli­hoods through sus­tain­able in­come and to pre­serve and pro­mote unique cul­ture, arts and crafts of the high­landers.

The Dzongdag added that the fes­ti­val will pro­mote and at­tract tour op­er­a­tors in de­vel­op­ing high­lands as hot spot for tourist and also to pro­vide plat­form for the Bhutanese high­landers to ex­change knowl­edge, ex­pe­ri­ences and good prac­tices.

On the gen­tle hills above the Laya vil­lage in Gasa, Lan­gothang which lies at an al­ti­tude of 4,100m above sea level, where the Royal High­land fes­ti­val will be or­ga­nized.

The fes­ti­val will show­case the high­land com­mu­nity’s in­no­va­tion and ex­hibit the high­lands as a pride of Bhutan.

This year there will be ex­hi­bi­tions of tech­nolo­gies, dis­play of unique high­land cul­ture of Laya, high­lands an­i­mal shows and com­pe­ti­tion of yak rid­ing, horse race, strong man and women com­pe­ti­tion, el­derly run, kids’ ath­let­ics, dance and songs, farms stays and lo­cal cuisines among oth­ers.

This fes­ti­val is an ab­so­lutely un­for­get­table cel­e­bra­tion of the cul­ture and reli­gion of high­land. The Royal High­land Fes­ti­val co­in­cides with the an­nual lo­cal Au­ley fes­ti­val, known for the rich tra­di­tional epic poem recita­tion, a tra­di­tion that orig­i­nates from the time of Zhab­drung Ngawang Nam­gyel, the founder of Bhutan.

The fes­ti­val will bring to­gether high­land com­mu­ni­ties from other parts of the coun­tries to ex­change val­ues, knowl­edge, skills and best prac­tices re­lated to high­lands and yak farm­ing.

The high­land com­mu­ni­ties from Wang­duepho­drang, Thim­phu, Paro, Haa, Trongsa, Bumthang, Trashigang, Lhuentse, Trashiyangtse and Gasa will be par­tic­i­pat­ing in the fes­ti­val.

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

The fes­ti­val is be­ing or­ga­nized to sen­si­tize the high­landers on the de­cline of yak farm­ing with in­creased vul­ner­a­bly from in­stantly shorter in­come gen­er­a­tion ac­tiv­i­ties that seem to be chal­leng­ing the sus­tain­abil­ity of liveli­hoods in fu­ture in the high­lands.

The fes­ti­val is also aimed at cre­ate aware­ness among stake­hold­ers on the im­por­tance of their spir­i­tual par­tic­i­pa­tion in en­hanc­ing their eco­nomic op­por­tu­nity and pro­mote the sus­tain­able liveli­hood of high­land com­mu­nity.

The live­stock fes­ti­vals will cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties to earn from home stays owned by the Laya vil­lagers where visi­tors, in­clud­ing min­is­ters, will be lodged in.

For the for­eigner, they will be charged a par­tic­i­pa­tion fee of US$ 100 per per­son which will be used for cov­er­ing the packed lunch, en­rooted re­fresh­ment, and oth­ers for the run.

The ex­pected out­come of the fes­ti­val is the gen­er­a­tions of rev­enue to the Layaps, recog­ni­tion of high­lands as im­por­tant el­e­ment of our na­tion, recog­ni­tion of the im­mense po­ten­tial of Laya and other high­lands as an ex­otic va­ca­tion of lo­cal and for­eign tourists.

“In fact our fo­cus is more on lo­cal so that we can min­i­mize the loss of money to other coun­tries by re­duc­ing for­eign va­ca­tion “the Dzondag added.

The lo­cals are the one who is go­ing to be ben­e­fited from the fes­ti­val which in­cludes di­rect in­come from the farm stays, food stalls, and sale of unique yak based prod­ucts and other high­land pro­duce.

Fur­ther the high­landers will have ex­po­sure to mod­ern de­vel­op­ments through in­ter­ac­tion with visi­tors and through the ex­hi­bi­tions and demon­stra­tions on tech­nolo­gies by CSO and gov­ern­ment agen­cies.

Mean­while, the first Royal High­land Fes­ti­val was held from 16 to 18 Oc­to­ber last year. It brought to­gether all high­land com­mu­ni­ties of Bhutan in Laya vil­lage.

Last year, the fes­ti­val was jointly or­ga­nized by the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture and Forests and Gasa Dzongkhag.

The Royal High­land Fes­ti­val cel­e­brates the unique cul­tural her­itage and legacy of the high­land com­mu­ni­ties of Bhutan amongst the soar­ing Hi­malayan peaks of the pris­tine en­vi­ron­ment of Laya.

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