15 – 17 April 2016, Royal Botanical Park, Lamperi: The Fourth Annual Rhododendron Festival held from 15 to 17 April 2016 at the Royal Botanical Park at Lamperi near Dochula pass showcasing 29 of the 46 Rhododendrons found in Bhutan concluded yesterday. The festival was celebrated with the theme, ‘Bio-cultural Diversity’ exhibiting the park’s biodiversity and variety of park resident’s culture.
The otherwise calm and serene park came to life for three days with some 200 community members from Chang, Dagala, Kawang and Toeb gewogs together with teachers and students of Hongtsho Pry. School and Dechentsemo Central School performing several interesting programs on environment, cultural and food items. Some of the highlights besides Zhungdra, Boedra and Rigsar included a welcome dance composed specifically for the park, Ta-da Dhom mask dance and Pashing dance which were unique to the festival.
Addressing the inaugural ceremony, Hon’ble Labour and Human Resource Minister, Lyonpo Ngeema Sangay Tshempo said that environmental conservation is one of the pillars of Gross National Happiness. The festival which emphasize on conservation of flora and fauna, Hon’ble Lyonpo said is in fulfilling one of the pillars of GNH.
Chairman of Meto Pelri Tshogpa, Dagala Gup Sonam Dorji said the festival is not only an effort to showcase ecological and cultural diversity to the tourist and foreign visitors but also to benefit the local communities as a result of which the park management will be enhanced.
The festival ground was compartmentalized into three villages. While the cultural and entertainment program continued in Culture and Entertainment Village, communities put up several stalls in the Food and Beverage village mainly aimed towards showcasing and generating income through sale of local drinks and delicacies. Meanwhile, several documentaries and audio-visual materials were presented at Education and Awareness Village.
Other features of the festival included rhododendron garden walk and exhibition, local culture and cuisines, arts and crafts, traditional games and guided walks through the park’s nature trail. The festival mainly focused on aspects of ecological richness of the park, cultural diversity of the park residents including food & entertainment.
The festival was coordinated by Meto Pelri Tshogpa composing community members from four gewogs and teachers and students from two schools within the park area with financial support from Tourism Council of Bhutan and Nature Recreation and Ecotoursim Division (NRED) of Department of Forest and Park Services.
Reported by: Ugyen Tshering, ICS
Photos by: Choidup Zangpo, ICS
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