The festival is held annually to strengthen community-based conservation while celebrating life in the mountains
Conservation: After trekking for two days from Shana in Paro and as temperatures dipped to almost zero degree, about 200 people including tourists joined the local communities last week at the third Jomolhari Mountain festival to celebrate life in the mountains.
Perhaps the coldest festival celebrated in the country, the two-day fiesta at the base of Mount Jomolhari, which is about 3,850 meters above sea level, is organized annually to encourage wildlife conservation through community participation and promote ecotourism opportunities in the Jomolhari region.
Among others, one of the highlights of the fest this year were the hikers sighting the elusive snow leopard, the national bird ravan, the Himalayan black bear, blue sheep and marmots.
About 50 visitors, in groups with local guides hiked to Tshophu, Lhaliphu, Bagala and Thomphuna. The guided tours, said festival organizers help the local community generate income besides the fest also providing a forum for them to market their dairy produces.
Through various events such as the horse race among the community’s men, the festival, which the Department of Forests and Park Servcies’ director general Chencho Norbu opened on October 7 also showcased local culture and tradition and encourage yak herding among the people in the highlands.
Unlike in the last two festivals, this year, a team of five officials from the Faculty of Nursing and Public Health (FNPH) joined the community and provided a free health checkup. The Bhutan Foundation, which had supported the first two festivals, funded the health camp, which the people received well, said park officials.
“The health checkup, which was done for the first time benefitted the communities including park officials,” Jigme Dorji National Park manager, Lhendup Tharchen said. “Given the long distance that people have to travel to avail health care, the check up saw a good turn out.”
About 100 people got their health checked, the dean of FNPH, who led the team Dr Chencho Dorji said. “We checked their Body Mass Index and people were quite happy to get the facility, even though there is a BHU there,” he said. “Those who were found with hypertension and high sugar levels were asked to visit a hospital.”
The teachers and students of Jomolhari School also participated in the fest with cultural programs while an art competition was also organized for the students.
“The main objective of the festival is to strengthen community based conservation by involving the communities,” Lhendup Tharchen said.
The Jigme Dorji National Park (JDNP) with the gewogs of Tsento and Soe organized the Nu 5.5M festival that the Tourism Council of Bhutan funded. The festival is held every year on the 25th and 26th day of the eighth month of the Bhutanese Calendar.