Chhimi Dema 

The festival to celebrate the lives of the highlanders, the Royal Highland Festival, will resume after a two-year hiatus.

The fifth edition of the festival will be held on October 23 and 24 in Laya where the highland communities from 10 dzongkhags will showcase their unique cultures and traditions.

The famous 25-kilometre cross-country Laya Run from Ponjothang in Gasa to Langothang in Laya will be held on October 23.

The festival was first held in 2016 to mark the celebrations of the birth of His Royal Highness The Gyalsey, 400 years of Zhabdrung Rinpoche, and the birth year of Guru Rinpoche.

Laya Gup, Tshewang, said that the people are being involved for the big day. “People will be assigned roles and responsibilities for the event’s success.”  

He said that the festival would benefit the people of the gewog immensely.

The villagers display and sell local products like chugo (dried cheese), butter and fabric unique to the highlanders.

Tshewang said, “The visitors bring income opportunities for the Layaps through porter and homestay services.”

The festival, he said, is also an opportunity for people from other parts of the country to visit Laya. “People might not visit Laya otherwise.”

The last highland festival was held in 2019; it could not be continued due to the pandemic. 

Interested individuals can register for participation from September 16 to October 16 by visiting Gasa dzongkhag’s website.

The dzongkhag will facilitate the booking or reservation of homestays or accommodation and other requirements.

Participants can opt to trek or be dropped on the location by helicopter.