Residents of Siliguri in West Bengal, a town nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas and considered to be the gateway to the North East, are all set to let their hair down on the 15th of this month in the first ever Siliguri Carnival.
Siliguri, the pearl of the North Eastern part of the country is located at a premeditated point ethnically, geographically, economically and historically important to the nation to such a scale that a carnival if held here will not only impact the lives of the about 12 Lac people of this cosmopolitan city but also that of the adjacent seven states in the north eastern region, the adjoining state of Bihar and the neighborhood nations like Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Myanmar- culturally, socially and economically.
This along with the onset of the festive session just before the arrival of Christmas necessitates a carnival of its kind. With its central theme “Siliguri- Yesterday, today and tomorrow" and the continual collective effort to "Keep Siliguri clean and green" ,the motto of this endeavor is to promote various aspects of heritage, composite culture, literary values, sports, tourism, scientific excellence of this multi ethnic, multicultural and multilingual city and its vibrant people.
Home to diverse ethnic communities, the festival will host a week-long socio-cultural extravaganza where various aspects of heritage, composite culture, literary values, sports, tourism, and scientific excellence will be celebrated through a variety of events.
As it is one of the main commercial, tourism, transportation, and educational centres of North Bengal, it gives people a good platform to explore the diverse cultures set in and around the area. It is also the transit point to the neighbouring countries of Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh.
At the Darjeeling More in Siliguri (Panoramio)
The carnival's theme is Siliguri: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow while the mascot is a cuddly leopard cub. Officials are seeking suggestions from the citizens for a suitable name. As per the schedule, a massive rally has been planned to kick-start the event on December 15 where citizens belonging to different ethnic groups will walk in the rally in their traditional attire.
Darjeeling More in SIliguri (Wikipedia)
Each day has been demarcated for specific activity which would be message centric. While day 1 is Clean and Green Siliguri, the rest of the week would witness Safe Driving Day, Save Water Day, Senior Citizens Day, Womanhood Day, Special Children Day and the concluding Siliguri Day. In addition, an astronomy exhibition by the Sky Watchers Association of North Bengal will offer a glimpse into astronomy images clicked from Siliguri.
Singer Kunal Ganjawala is slated to perform with artists from Bengal at the city's Kanchenjunga Stadium on the final day of the carnival with other host of adventure activities like para-gliding, mountain biking and rock climbing that would also engage tourists.
Coinciding with this would be the 'Small Town Film Fest' which will showcase over 26 films by independent film-makers from all over the world over a four-day period. Organised by Cafe Fiction, the festival also features works of three directors from Sikkim.
Tourism department officials said they are expecting a 30 per cent increase in tourists this December.
“December is not our peak tourist season but we want to portray Sikkim as a round-the-year tourist attraction. The Himalayas have a different charm in the winters and we are banking on that. With so many activities planned for tourists we are expecting a 30-40 per cent hike in the number of tourists in December,” said the department of tourism and civil aviation.
Tourism department states in December 2013, 56,000 domestic and 1300 foreign tourists had visited Sikkim. A number of tour operators and hotels are offering special packages for the winter carnival. Tourism Department officials say that the carnival integrates locals as well as tourists with events and activities themed on a typical Himalayan winter.
From food stalls which serve exquisite and delicious cuisines of various tribes and communities, to rock shows, karaoke and dancing; flower shows, handloom and handicraft exhibitions, photography contests, many more other interactions form the carnival.
While M G Marg, Gangtok's main commercial and tourist hub, would serve as the main venue of most of the events, stalls and kiosks will also appear at Ridge Park. Other events are scheduled at White Hall and Ipecac Garden (Saramsa Garden). The state IT department has announced to provide free Wi-Fi along the whole stretch of M G Marg.
Sikkimese actress Geetanjali Thapa, who also won the 2013 National Award for the film 'Liar's Dice', has been appointed as the carnival's brand ambassador.
Not only will the carnival host such spectacular events but will also have films lined up include Sandeep Ray's 'The Sound of Old Rooms', Ritu Sarin's 'When Hari Got Married', 'The Red Door' by Tashi Gyeltshen, and Sourav Sarangi's award-winning film 'Char The No-Man's island'. Two films which would be premiered at the carnival are - 'The Great Mysteries' by Billy Fox and Carlos Rentas and 'Memorials' by Korou Kundrakpam.
Listen to the Carnival Theme Song here:
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