Manali: Livening up the winters in scenic Manali, the 5th Manali Winter Carnival opened up today with tourists and local residents thronging the central market place to watch the show. The festival was inaugurated after the organising committee had sought blessings at Hadimba Devi Temple, the presiding deity of Manali.
Many tableaus exhibiting the traditional folk art of Himachal Pradesh participated in the inaugural procession that started from the Hadimba temple and passed through The Mall Road amidst the carnival fanfare.
Devesh Kumar, divisional magistrate of Mandi & Kangra inaugurated the carnival by lighting the lamp at Manu Rangshala. Speaking on occasion Devesh said that the carnival truly promotes the culture and traditions of the valley. He lauded the role of carnival committee.
Rakesh Kanwar, deputy commissioner Kullu in his address said that the carnival held much significance for the tourism industry as it was another attraction of visiting the valley.
The five-day cultural evenings are to hold a mix of musical and dance events. Cultural troupes from various states are of special attraction for both locals and tourists. Traditional Himachali folk dances and cultural presentations do hold interests of the domestic and foreign tourists.
A Miss Winter Queen beauty pageant will also be held during the entire event, with the finale scheduled to be held on January 6.
A large number of residents gathered at Manu Rangshala, the open air auditorium, to watch the evening cultural programmes in freezing temperatures.
Ashish, a visitor from Delhi, said he was impressed by the confluence of cultural richness of many states of India.
A local resident rued that the status of the carnival in old days was far better and even former CM PK Dhumal had tried to improve the standard of the carnival by declaring it a national-level festival but it had lost its status during the past one decade. The continued efforts by the organising committee might bring back the lost prestige of the carnival, he added.
Jyoti Rana. SDM Manali and vice-chairman of Winter Carnival Committee, thanked all mahila mandals of the valley for their participation in the event and for conserving the rich folk art of the Kullu. She said Winter Carnival is being celebrated every year during off tourism season to attract tourists to the town. She urged residents to preserve their rich culture and behave well with tourists to create a friendly environment.
Rattan Gautam Dy. Director Tourism, Punit Raghu Dy. S.P Manali, Padma Chhering Teshildar, among others were present on the occasion
Sanjay Dutta, an engineer by qualification but is a journalist by choice.
He has worked for the premier new agency Press Trust of India and leading English daily Indian Express.
With more than a decade of experience, he has been highlighting issues related to environment, tourism and other aspects affecting mountain ecology.
Sanjay Dutta lives in a village close to Manali in Kullu valley of Himachal.