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Darjeeling Cultural and Tourism Festival in October

Bimal Gurung and Binay Tamang
Darjeeling, Sept. 11: Bimal Gurung today promised a peaceful Puja season across the Darjeeling hills this year as he unveiled plans for a month-long extravaganza to showcase the region’s rich cultural heritage.
The GTA chief executive said the tourists and local people alike “will not be disturbed” during the festive season.
“The movement (for Gorkhaland) will be a technical one. None will be disturbed by this movement. I have seen the door (to Gorkhaland) and I will go and take up the issue there. This unpaar (illiterate) Bimal Gurung will show whether he can do something concrete for the hill community,” Gurung told leaders of different hill communities who had been invited for a discussion on the cultural festival.
Tourism is the mainstay of the hill economy and Gurung’s promise is expected to be music to visitors’ ears. About 3.5 lakh domestic tourists and 40,000 foreigners visit the hills annually on an average. The Puja season in 2013 was badly affected with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha organising a 34-day general strike from July-end to September first week.
Even though the Puja season usually starts in October, the strife in September last year drove the tourists away from the hills.
To make the stay more fun-filled for the tourists this year, the GTA has decided to organise the Darjeeling Cultural and Tourism Festival during the October-November period. In previous years, the GTA used to organise Darjeeling Tea and Tourism Festival across the hills in December. This year, the festival has been given a new name.
“The cultural and tourism festival will start in Darjeeling from October 8 and will carry on till November 7. In Kalimpong, the festival will be held between October 9 and 26, while in Kurseong, it will be between October 10 and 19. The Mirik-leg of the fest will be organised from October 11 to 20,” said Gurung.
The hill leader said the focus of the festival would be to highlight the rich culture of the hill people. “We request every community to showcase its culture during the festival. Earlier, too, I had requested people to wear traditional dresses for a month. I was not trying to be a dictator but was only trying to safeguard our culture and show the rest of the country that we are different from Bengal. It was also an effort to ensure that the hill people are not divided on different caste lines,” said Gurung.
Gurung today asked Morcha leaders and supporters not to interfere in the organisation of the cultural festival. “Our leaders and supporters should not come to the forefront. Let those who are organising the event carry on with the festival without any interference. Also, do not raise funds for the festival. The GTA will provide all possible support,” said Gurung.
The Darjeeling Tea and Tourism festival used to be organised jointly by the GTA, state government and the residents of Darjeeling. This year, the cultural and tourist festival will be organised jointly by the information and cultural affairs department and the tourism department of the GTA.

Source: The Telegraphh

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