Second Royal Highland Festival celebrates unique cultural heritage

Five herders participated in the horse race
Five herders participated in the horse race

October 23-24, Gasa: Highlanders from Wangdue, Thimphu, Paro, Haa, Trongsa, Bumthang, Trashigang, Lhuentse, Trashiyangtse and Gasa along with officials and tourists gathered for the 2nd Royal Highland Festival at Langothang, Laya. His Majesty The King graced the opening of the festival with a theme, Highlands-The Pride of the Nation.

The festival celebrated the unique cultural heritage and legacy of the highland communities of Bhutan attracting many visitors both from within and outside. It also served as a forum for visitors to experience life in the highlands and learnt about the resilience and beautiful highland people and culture.

One of the festival attractions was the Laya run which began from Ponjothang, the nearest road point. Seventy three men and 23 women took part in the run including tourists. Sangay, a soldier from Paro bagged the title after completing the run in one hour and 59 minutes while in women’s category; Choki from Laya stood first completing the run in two hours and 41 minutes.

During the festival, highlanders from ten Dzongkhags exhibited their local yak products which were unique to their regions such as chugo, fermented cheese, bags, neck sleigh, rope and caps among others. Jigme Wangdi, a graduate was one of the youngest highlanders who walked for three days, all the way from Romateng under Khoma geog, Lhuentse to participate in the festival. Participating for the first time, he shared that such festival is encouraging for him to explore new technologies, know highlander friends from other Dzongkhags and share experience and ideas for improvement.

The livestock officials inspecting one of the yaks
The livestock officials inspecting one of the yaks

Other attractions included tug of war, horse race, livestock show, strongman competition, wrestling, wool and rope weaving, kids’ athletics and lottery along with various cultural dances.

The livestock show was categorised in terms of best horse, mastiff and for yak in terms of breeding bull, milking, heifer and calf. Most of the categories were bagged by herders from Lungo while few were taken by herders from Nyelo and Lupcha villages.

The agriculture and livestock research centres also demonstrated their improved and post production technologies related to fruits, cereals, low cost polyhouse, dairy, sheep and honey bees for awareness to highlanders. Yak sausages were one attraction at the livestock research stall which was sold like hot cakes. Other services such as sterilisation of animals were also available.

The festival ended with an awarding of prizes to winners for various categories. Gasa Dzongkhag Administration and Department of Livestock with support from the relevant stakeholders organised the festival which was initiated last year to promote the sustainable livelihood of highlanders.


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