Ugen T Gyatso, Sikkim’s minister for tourism and civil aviation, formally inaugurating the festival in Gangtok on Thursday

Gangtok: The three-day-long Red Panda Winter Carnival 2019 was formally inaugurated by Ugen T Gyatso, minister for tourism and civil aviation, in Gangtok on Thursday. The minister declared it open after beating the Chabrung, a traditional drum, and releasing doves for peace and prosperity.

Earlier, on his arrival at the venue, the minister was given a grand reception by the Jorethang Senior Secondary School Band. The band had recently won a national-level inter-school band competition held in New Delhi recently.

Traditional dancers performing at the inauguration ceremony of the Red Panda Winter Carnival in Gangtok, Sikkim on Thursday

The Red Panda Winter Carnival is an annual feature of the state government to celebrate the Sikkimese way of life and showcase the state’s unique culture and traditions. Over the years, it has evolved into one of the most popular annual events not only for Sikkim but for neighbouring states and countries as well. Delegates from Bhutan, Nepal, the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration and Kalimpong are participating in this year’s edition.

Special invitees such as Manju Bhandari, mayor from the neighbouring country of Nepal, and Chorten Dorji, executive director, Handicrafts Association of Bhutan, were presented a replica each of the red panda, the official mascot of the carnival, as a mark of respect and appreciation.

The inaugural ceremony saw the presentation of ‘Dropa Drodung’, a native drum-dance of the Tibetan community. It was performed by Gangjong Doeghar, a group of artists from Kalingpong. Likewise, while artistes of the Taal Music Academy, Namchi, performed the Maruni dance, artists of the G# School of Performing Arts Gangtok presented a violin performance, followed by an enthralling snow lion dance by artists of Gangjong Doeghar, Kalingpong.

The cultural events at the main venue on MG Marg will continue throughout the day during the festival, starting with yoga sessions in the morning and followed by performances by renowned music bands in the evening. Photo exhibitions, DJ nights and traditional food stalls are some of the other highlights of the carnival.

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