Experience Cherry Blossoms in Meghalaya
News - India & You ,
This year, Japan will join the festivities
The India International Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates the world’s only autumn cherry blossom, and this year it will be held from November 14 to 17.
Nestled between the states of Assam and Bangladesh in north-east India, Meghalaya boasts of one of the richest bio-diversities in the country, with forests and green hills, large lakes and multiple waterfalls. Autumn and cherry blossom herald the end of long months of monsoons and the beginning of Christmas festivities, which are celebrated with great fanfare in this state where nearly 75 pc of the population is Christian.
In an attempt to convert the cherry blossoms into a major tourist attraction, in November 2016, the state government launched the India International Cherry Blossom Festival.
During a press conference held in New Delhi today, Prof. Dinabandhu Sahoo, Director of Institute of Bioresources & Sustainable Development (IBSD), which jointly organises the festival, said that the Cherry Blossom Festival generates huge employment and revenues for various cities and countries like Japan, New Zealand and parts of Korea. “In Washington DC alone, the festival typically brings more than 1.5 million visitors and brings in USD 400 million in revenue every year. Last year, the India International Cherry Blossom Festival marked the International Year of Sustainable Tourism, attracted more than 100 000 visitors and boosted the local economy by 300 pc”, he added.
Japan joins the festivities
“This year, the embassy of Japan in India will be a strategic partner of the festival. They will have a stall and there will be cultural exhibitions as well as a Japanese Food Pavilion. We look forward to a great cultural exchange from this association”, said Conrad Sangma, Chief Minister of Meghalaya.
“With the global warming, the dates of flowering vary from one year to another but they generally take place during the month of November for about ten days,’’ said Albert Chiang, a scientist at the IBSD.
The origin of cherry trees in this sub-Himalayan state is still unclear. According to the locals, they have always existed but the state has planted more over the years. “The government has taken the initiative to enhance this uniqueness of the state by planting nearly 5,000 trees in Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, and in its surroundings since 2015. A cherry tree takes about three years to produce fruit,” says Albert.
The festival will be held in several places in Shillong; it brings together locals and tourists around musical and dance concerts, beauty contests, fashion shows, and sports activities highlighting talent and local entrepreneurship.
Check out our video from celebrations last year: