Carnival Cheer: Uplifting citizens and promoting local for locals
“If it hadn’t been for the carnival, most of my wares would have remained at home, without fulfilling the purpose of being used”, says Ongmu Tamang, a craftswoman working at one of the handloom stalls at Temi Tea Autumn Carnival in South Sikkim.
One of Sikkim's most famous seasonal events, Temi Autumn Carnival is organized annually by the Temi Tea Estate Board in Namchi, South Sikkim. A three-day celebration marking the essence of the end of tea harvesting, it was one of the first official social events to be organized after India’s Unlock phase, keeping strictly in mind the SOPs.
The theme for this year was Local For Locals, where local cuisines from different tribes and communities of Sikkim were presented.
T.T Bhutia, Chairman for Temi Tea Board stated, “There are various programs and festivals celebrated across Sikkim but our local educated youths were not included, while in this 2020 Temi Autumn Carnival we tried to give platforms for the locals so that they could showcase their talent. The decorations, artists the stage designer including various others are all done by the locals”
Promoting the locals, various art execution and ethnic cultural and traditional attractions were showcased during the carnival, and in the other hand promoting adventure tourism various sports like Heli joy ride, horse riding, zip-lining and mountain biking was organized.
Bhutia further added, “Basically this year we have focused on adventure tourism so that people could take a tour of the beautiful gardens of tea and admire its adorable landscape”.
Quite naturally, footfall has been lesser than the year before, in spite of all borders being opened for tourists but at the same time, it gave businesses a chance to gain some profit after months of remaining latent.
Apart from the cultural significance, economic benefits can be reaped from these festivals as well. Locals supporting the businesses of other locals results in the economic growth of the state. Young entrepreneurs can get a glimpse of their world, learn the nooks and crannies of the trade. While setting up stalls to sell their craft, they can hire a workforce and develop an understanding of how to handle and manage labour.
Carnivals can also be a way for the location to get some exposure and attract tourists. Thus, increasing the revenue of the state. The culture of the region can also be highlighted to people visiting the state. Events and carnivals can be really beneficial in the tourism industry and a lot of tourists means an increase in the revenue of the state. If by any chance festivals like these get international recognition then it will instil a sense of pride and joy among the people of the community, inspiring them to pursue and sell their generational crafts. It can be also seen as a motivating factor for promoting the wellness and welfare of the community. Carnivals are a great way for people to interact and socialise during such hard times, where the pandemic had managed to cut off humans from physical interactions, even if it was for a brief period of time.
Events like the Red Panda Winter Carnival and Namchi Mahotsav occur annually, with the locals marking their calendars for the dates it falls on so as to never miss a day of consuming one’s tradition and culture in various forms, whether it be art, music, dance or food. These festivals are not only built to attract the attention of tourists but help them understand Sikkim’s cultural and contemporary history and to feel the joy of sharing space with its residents.