Darjeeling, Oct. 21: It will be the biggest party the town has hosted. A carnival of 10 days, complete with food, music and entertainment, designed to liven up the tourists and clear away the gloom hanging heavy over the beautiful Darjeeling after Sunday’s ropeway tragedy.
The concept of Carnival 2003, planned on lines of the Goa festival, was incidentally floated by the residents of the hill town.
Of course, the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, the municipality and police are pitching in with their bit of help and support.
Samir Sharma, one of the organisers of the carnival, said: “Darjeeling tourism needs a morale booster and the carnival is the right way to start off.”
Paragliding, white water rafting, a pony pageant, a rally showcasing the Land Rovers that were introduced during the days of the Raj, dog shows, cultural programmes and food festivals are some of the programmes that will be organised during the festival.
Despite the grand plans, no committee has been formed exclusively for the carnival. According to Sharma, every organisation in the town is free to participate in event management.
The carnival will cost an estimated Rs 15 lakh, most of which is coming through sponsors and contributions from residents.
“The entire town is getting together for the fest. While some are offering free accommodation to the participants, others are providing vehicles. Everyone is pitching in with something or the other,” said Sharma.
D.T. Tamlong, the chief principal secretary of the hill council, has announced full support for the event. The district police have echoed Tamlong and his idea of a resurgent tourist town.
To cheer up the tourists, thinning at the fag end of the festival season, there will be lilting strains of music played by the the Darjeeling police band that will parade the streets during Diwali. Social organisations and schools will stage shows at Chowrastha.
“The entire town will be lit up. We will have a concert for three days, involving the best bands from Darjeeling, Kurseong and neighbouring Sikkim,” said Sharma.
As the carnival coincides with the centenary celebrations of the Happy Valley tea garden there will be more events and contests. Kite-flying and momo-eating are likely to be the top draws. The celebration will kick off from Happy Valley with a candle march.
The spirit of the people has manifested itself through campaigns and welcome rallies several times in the past.
When the boarding schools of the hill town reopened after a long winter vacation, the people organised a Welcome Home campaign to make the students feel better. When landslides crippled Mirik, it was a “Mero Mirik Hamro Darjeeling Bataa (My Mirik — From Our Darjeeling)” campaign aimed at collecting relief materials.
Darjeeling alone sent more than 10 truckloads of relief material to the victims because of the campaign.
It is this indomitable spirit that finds expression in the carnival that starts November 7 with the objective of burying the memories of the cable car crash.