Royal Highland Festival: A Tale of Growing Vendors and Festive Joy

Every Autumn, people of Laya in Gasa jubilate in the vibrant colours of the Royal Highland Festival. Adding to the festive cheers are the makeshift shops and food stalls, which brought desirable clothes and flavours closer to Layaps. This time, the festival saw more shops and stalls compared to the previous years.

Near the event ground, there were some twenty makeshift stalls and shops that sold garments, vegetables, toys and different local cuisines. According to the Laya Gewog Administration, there were only 13 shops last year.

These vendors have come to Laya from Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang in the hope of making some profit by selling their goods. After braving the cold weather of Laya for a couple of days, just as they thought, the vendors said they had a good turnover.

“If we have doma and vegetables, there are chances of getting spoiled but since I sell garments, it’s all good for me. I can at least make Nu 3,000 to Nu 4,000 every day,” said Thinley, a vendor.

“There are more than 20 food stalls and there is various type of items too. Likewise, there are many customers coming here and businesses are going well. For me, it hasn’t even been two days since I started selling here and also, I couldn’t keep my shop open all day but I could still make around Nu 50,000 to Nu 60,000,” said Kinley Dorji, a vendor.

For the people in Laya, the food stalls gave them the opportunity to experience and taste different cuisines. The other stalls made it convenient for them to buy clothes and goods, for which, they otherwise had to travel to Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang.

Sangay Choki, a resident said, “we have shops here but we do not get toys and food items that are here today. So, during such a festival, I get to buy toys and taste different foods. I bought balloon lights, key hangers and earrings.”

“Some of us do not get time to go to Wangdue or Punakha for shopping. So, when they bring the goods here, it’s helpful. It’s a good business for them and also helpful to us.  We could buy warm clothes to wear in winter. Likewise, we get to taste popular food items of Haa and Bumthang,” said Singye Wangchuk, another resident.

Tenzin Sithup, who is also a resident said, “we get Momo and Hoentey here. Otherwise, we do not get such food in our village. We rarely get to eat these foods.”

The Gewog administration collected more than Nu 32,000 ngultrum from the vendors, which was used for tidying the place after the festival and to pay electric bills.

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