More than a thousand people gathered at the Bartsham Central School ground to celebrate the 111th National Day in Trashigang yesterday.

The gloomy weather did not deter people from flocking at the venue as early as 7 am.

Ugyen from Yangkhar village in Bartsham gewog headed for the venue around 6 am. “I started early as I have to walk some two hours from my house to get here,” said the 67-year-old. “I didn’t want to miss anything including the breakfast. I was told that breakfast and tea including lunch would be served.”

The celebrations began with the sharing of live audio feed of His Majesty The King’s address to the nation.

Cultural events including fun activities and mask dances were performed. A health booth offering free health check up on blood pressure, diabetes, and sexually transmitted infections were also made available.

However, the highlight of the day was the crop exhibition that was displayed by farmers of four gewogs – Bartsham, Bidung, Samkhar and Shongphu.

Locally grown fresh vegetables and fruits were on display for the guests and visitors. To the surprise of the visitors, this year the organisers, the dzongkhag agriculture sector, had decided to put those on display for sale.

In less than 30 minutes, the vegetables and fruits were sold out.

Officials from dzongkhag agriculture sector said the exhibition was incorporated as a part of national day celebrations since 2015. Before the display, farmers and their products are put in a contest to select the best crop among the competitors.

The winning crops are then selected for the exhibition. “This is to encourage our farmers to grow local products and ultimately reduce our vegetable and fruit imports,” said the dzongkhag agriculture officer, DC Bhandari.

He said that over the last three years with the introduction of the competition, farmers have taken more interest in growing local produce and the production has also increased.

The annual event is supported by Comprehensive market focused Agriculture and Rural Livelihood Enhancement Project (CARLEP) and organised by the agriculture sector.

Meanwhile, the dzongkhag administration and education sector have been taking the national day celebrations out of the core town to various schools in different gewogs for a few years now.

Trashigang dzongdag, Chekey Gyeltshen, said it was important for the students and rural communities to know the reason for celebrating the national day. “Of the many celebrations we have, national day is the most important because it marks the day our country was unified.”

The dzongdag added that the day was observed to pay respect and tribute to the Wangchuck dynasty for maintaining continuous peace and prosperity in the country.

Younten Tshedup  | Bartsham