Royal Highland Festival ends
Amidst the mighty snow capped mountains and serene breeze, hundreds of people bustled to celebrate the third Royal Highland Festival in Laya, Gasa on October 23- 24.
The festival unlocks the mystery of the authenticity and simplicity of highlander. It also brings together all the highlanders from other part of Bhutan to exchange values, knowledge, skills and best practices related to highlanders and yak herding.
The festival sensitizes the highlanders on decline of yak farming with increased vulnerability from instantly short term income generating activities that seem to be challenging the sustainability of livelihoods in future in the highlands. Thus, it is aimed to enlighten stakeholders on the importance of their spirited participation in enhancing the economic opportunity of the highlanders.
This festival also shares the beauty and wonders of Gasa Dzongkhag through its nature, history and its age- old tradition and culture, and with Gasa's vision of “Good to Great Gasa”.
A strong early morning adorned with the chipdrel procession followed by offering of marchang and national anthem started the festival on October 23.
Gracing the event, the representative of His Majesty The King to the festival, chief justice and chief advisor to the interim government, Tshering Wangchuk with people attending the festival offered the deepest gratitude to His Majesty The King for the insightful vision and considering this unique festival.
“Through festival like this, we get opportunity to experience the nomadic culture and their pastoral way of living,” chief advisor said.
The cheerful cultural programs by the locals, students and artists from the Bhutanese film industry, sports, parade of decorated yaks and horses, and lottery draws added colors to the cold white stuff.
The second day saw the most amazing 25km Laya run at about 4000m that is challenging yet mesmerizing scenic beau-
ty. The runner began from Ponjothang, the point where motorable road ends and runners have to go along the banks of Mochhu River until the Langothang.
An army physical instructor, Sangay Wangchuk, 35 was winner in men's category completing the race in 2 hours 7 minutes and 48 seconds. In women's category, Kinley Zam, 27 from Lunana completed the race in 2 hours 39 minutes 50 seconds. There were 24 women and 52 men including six foreigners, three in each category.
The day also saw livestock show where there were competition and judging of yak breeding, milch yak, heifer, calves, best horses and best dogs. The chief advisor later awarded prizes to the winners.
The strong women competition and wrestling amongst participating highland Dzongkhags was also organized. The partici- pants to the festival also took part in the open 5 km cross-country race in and around the festival ground.
“Gungi Thempo“- Lhingzhi Zhey, a native dance to the highlander from Thimphu Dzongkhag and “Chundu Gonshay” from Haa were also performed to entertain the gathering.
Some highlanders were lucky to have utility items through luck draws. The day also saw offering of zhapten ( long life prayers) to His Majesty the King, the highlanders displayed their way of living a nomadic lives through return parade of their decorated animals.
The festival consists of series of stalls ranging from local based yak produce to highland technology, highland agriculture technology, medicinal herbs and plants and others.
The festival was started in October 16, 2016 to mark the birth of His Royal Highness Gyalsey, 400 years of Shabdrung and Rabjung (60 years cycle) birth year of Guru Rinpoche. His Majesty has personally graced the first and second year of the festival. Since then, the festival is celebrated with joy by Bhutanese, every year.
The chief advisor to the interim government Chief Justice Tshering Wangchuk awards prize to 27-year-old Kinley Zam, who is the winner in the women’s category in Laya Run.Laya Run is one of the many events held as part of the Royal Highland Festival.