The flight of Black-Necked cranes coming in from their summer roosting grounds in the north and landing in Phobjikha is a beautiful sight to behold. The tranquil valley of Phobjikha is made more festive with the arrival of the cranes.
On November 11, as it has been done for last 17 years, the Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN), together with Phobjikha Environment Management Committee (PEMC) will organize the Black-Necked Crane festival at the courtyard of Gangtey Gonpa in Gangtey Gewog under Wangduephodrang. The festival this year is even more special as it pays tribute to the 60th Birth Anniversary of the Fourth King.
The organizers say the day of festival is befittingly made on November 11, the birth anniversary His Majesty the Fourth King who has been instrumental in the preservation and conservation of the environment in Bhutan.
The serene courtyard of the Gangtey Gonpa will be abuzz with lots of activities. The festival ground in the courtyard is expected to be jam-packed with government officials, tourists, conservationists and most of all, the local people of Phobjikha who will come to witness and enjoy the Black-Necked Crane festival to mark the 60th Birth Anniversary celebrations.
The spectators will witness the cranes, circumambulating thrice around the Gangtey Gonpa, before landing. Local people say the Black-Necked cranes circumambulate the gonpa every time they leave or enter into Phobjikha.
The whole valley will be reverberating with the resonance of tuneful songs, the beating of the cymbals from the festival ground while the equally melodious call of the birds will blend harmoniously with the festivalheld by the people for the birds.
The annual Black-Necked Crane festival, according to the organizers, is aimed at educating people about the need for conservation of the environment and the cranes. Hence, the festival involves the community as an integral part of the festival.
The local community, the monastic institution and the school studentspresent a variety of cultural performances including traditional mask and folk dances to entertain the large congregation of spectators.
The organizers expect to garner the good will support of both the local people and the tourists towards conservations of environment and the cranes.This year, on the historic event, the Gangtey Trulku will grace the launching ceremony of the commemorative Black-Necked crane and White-Bellied heron stamps. A children’s book called “Crane Boy” written by Diana Cohn will also be launched.
The limelight of the festival is the locally choreographed crane dance performed by the local school children with grace and beauty. It is a unique dance in which a group of school children are dressed as Black-Necked cranes. As much the dance outfits resemble the birds, so does their graceful dance choreography- the male crane dance to attract the females during the mating season.
The festival will attract more than 400 international tourists. The festival was first organized in 1998 by RSPN,to remind the local people on the importance of the conservation of the cranes and its habitats and also to generate some income to finance local conservation initiatives.