6th Royal Highland Festival a success

The theme for the 6th Royal Highland Festival was “Developing Highland Sustainability and Climate Resilience”. The festival witnessed a total of 4,157 participants with 119 international visitors. 

The Gasa Dzongda Jigme Namgyal shared the that overview of the program was categorized under the broad components, which were highland tradition and cultural program, highland animal show, yak based-product exhibition and sale, 25km open Laya Run to all, iconic animal parade and highlanders’ games and sports.

He said, “The event aimed to promote the local economy, preserve the highland culture with networking and educational knowledge sharing among highlanders and rest of the world and sustainable marketing of highland products and services.”

The highland product display and sale was initiated by 10 highland dzongkhags. Educational agricultural awareness program was initiated by the Department of Agriculture on technology display and awareness on sustainable harvesting of cordyceps, awareness on wild mushroom poisoning, and medical values of various mushrooms. Awareness was also shared on Sunken greenhouse technology, black garlic preparation, organic inputs such as rice husk biochar, bokashi, and vermicompost and display and distribute vegetable seeds and display of hydroponics model.

Educational livestock awareness was given by an expert team from Thimphu, Punakha, Wangdue and Bumthang on highland product, showcase on sheep farm products of Bumthang, yak farm awareness and participation for animal judging for the event and support.

De-Suung Skilling Program (DSP) food stall gave display and services to international guests and there was a Kidu Medical Mobile Camp for locals.

The Dzongda also shared that the 6th edition of the festival had more media coverage through various social media platforms, different cultural programs from all the participating dzongkhags, varieties of games and sports with few new items.

He said there was homestays booking and up gradation of homestays

He said that the 16 homestays had full occupancy in Khatoed gewog. At Laya, 74 homestays, were booked by guests.

The dzongkhag received supports from the Office of the Gyalpoi Zimpon, Department of Tourism and Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock.

He also shared that from this festival, they have learnt for the need of coordination and implementation of similar events in other places, and they have taken recommendations from the visitors and partners to enhance the future events.

“This is an annual event, and the dzongkhag shall aim to ensure each celebration shall be better than the past years and unique.”

The theme for the event from 1st to 4th Royal Highland Festival was promoting highlanders in general and 5th RHF was promotion for highland products.

The Royal Highland Festival was first introduced on 16 October 2016 to mark the celebration of the birth of HRH The Gyalsey, 400 years of Zhabdrung Rimpoche and 60 years cycle of Rabjung, the birth year of Guru Rinpoche, and with the noble vision to preserve highland culture and tradition alive for generations to come.

Since then, it has been an annual event conducted at Langothang, Laya Gewog. The event is not just for the highlanders of Gasa, but also for the highlanders from 9 other districts.

The festival shares the beauty of the wonders of Gasa through its nature, history and age-old tradition and culture, to share Gasa’s vision of “good to great gasa” and to finally share all these authenticity and simplicity of the life of the highlanders.

During the festival, visitors can witness the traditional offering of Buelwa (gift offering) with Auley (traditional epic poem/song recitation tradition originated from Zhabdrung Rinpoche’s days) that begun during Zhabdrung Rinpoche’s reign, to show loyalty and respect by the community of Laya for the dynamic and visionary leadership of our successive Monarchs.

Many varieties of cultural programs are performed by Layaps. The various competitions on highland animals including the yaks, horses and mastiffs are also held during the festival, and traditional song and dance competition also add to the merriment.

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