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