The nomads in the country will once again get together to celebrate the Sixth Annual Nomads’ Festival, initiated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests. The theme of the festival is ‘promoting harmony for bio-culture diversity’. The unique festival is seen as an excellent platform for the nomads and herders to show case their tradition and culture, nomadic life style and experiences, handicrafts, and weaves.
The semi-nomads from Haa, Paro, Thimphu, Gasa, Trashi Yangtse and Trashigang are active participants in the event. This year they will be joined by the nomads from Bumthang and Wangduephodrang.
The two-day long festival, February 23-25, in Thangbee in Chokhoer gewog under Bumthang is dedicated to the 60th Birth Anniversary of the Fourth Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck.
The nomads will also exhibit their traditional games, like Soksum, Pungdo, Khuru and a variety of nomadic dances that are prominent in their locality. The nomads are set to cook their traditional nomadic dishes, like Jagbuli, Khuli and Puta, and sell livestock products. The visitors interested in trekking would be guided by the local people to trek along the popular Bumthang cultural trek.
According to the Park Manager, Wangchuk Centennial National Park, Tshering Dendup, the festival is dedicated to the nomadic communities in the country. He said the nomads in the country not only have an exclusive culture, but they are also known to have a sacred and indispensible duty of contributing towards sovereignty and border integrity of the country by acting as a buffer zone at the bordering areas.
Tshering Dendup further said that organizing such a festival would encourage the young nomads to remain in their homes and continue to take care of their ancestral farmland.
Such festival also helps to expand transhumance practice (transfer of livestock from one grazing ground to another, as from lowlands to highlands, with the changing of seasons), foods, culture and tradition.
The annual festival also aims to acknowledge and reinforce the special role played by the highland people in the conservation of bio cultural heritage of Bhutan.
Apart from such festivals, the government also aims to take education and other social amenities closer to the nomads, in hopes that such amenities would help the economically productive members of the family to remain in the highlands.
The festival also brings together people from all section of the society, and thus minimizing the social stigma attached to some sections of the society. It is intended to promote the idea of linkage between ecotourism and conservation to boost the socioeconomic status of the nomads and provide tourists with the opportunity to experience the culture and traditions of rural Bhutan.
The agriculture ministry will be at the festival to showcase economically viable farm technologies, programs and entrepreneurial activities geared towards alleviation of rural poverty.
The festival will also educate the nomads on the values of conservation of flora and fauna, watershed management, economic development, animal and plant husbandry etc.
The two-day long festival is organized by Wangchuck Centennial National Park and supported by Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB), Bhutan Trust Fund for Environment Conservation (BTFEC) and Wild Wildlife Fund Bhutan.