THE CLAY FESTIVAL : 2018

Ladakh Ecological Development Group in collaboration with Charasa Village Association and Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Leh organised a two-day event, “Serga- the Clay Festival,” at Charasa village in Nubra valley. The festival was supported by Future Earth, All Ladakh Tour Operators Association (ALTOA), A Lifetime Trip, Ravine Trek, Unwind Outdoor and White Copper Travels.

The festival aimed at fostering culture and social responsibility, and initiating a dialogue between the stakeholders in the village. The objective of the event was to promote Charasa as a model village and also to facilitate tourism in the villager which is otherwise concentrated in Disket, Hunder, Panamik, Turtuk and Sumoor villages. There are many organisations which have rich traditions embedded in the ethics of protecting nature. Keeping that tradition alive, LEDeG has adopted Charasa to improve their social and environment.

There is tremendous scope of tourism in Charasa, which falls under Panamik Tehsil and is 133 km far from Leh town. As the name suggests, Charasa (Lchag means Iron, Ra is ore and Sa means soil) is famous for its high quality clay and iron ore. Charasa was once the capital of Nubra and one can still see the palace of King Nima Namgail and Tsewang Namgyal known as Kharpochey Khar.

Another objective behind organising the fest was to build capacities of local villagers of Charasa, and to promote local organic products and sustainable tourism in Charasa. The inauguration of the festival was done by Chief Executive Councillor, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Leh Dorjey Mutup. Tsering, Goba (village head) of Charasa village, gave the welcome speech and thanked LEDeG for conducting the festival. He said the villagers of Charasa with help from LEDeG would realise their goals of making Charasa a model village. CEC LAHDC Leh Dorjey Mutup also spoke on the occasion and appreciated the efforts of LEDeG to help the villagers of Charasa. He said LAHDC and district administration would support the cause and also encouraged the people of Charasa to practice organic farming in the village.

Dr Nordan Otzer, Executive Director of LEDeG, shared with the audience the work being carried out by LEDeG and stressed that LEDeG has been promoting organic farming and activities related to sustainable development in villages. The festival also showcased performances from different parts of Nubra, including school students from Charasa village. Northern Art and Cultural Society, led by its president, Tsering Sonam Sopari, presented a skit on the importance of organic farming. One of the songs performed by them addressed the current issues faced by people of Ladakh.

Various games were also organised to entertain the crowd and keep them engaged. Lotteries with attractive prizes were sold on the occasion. The villagers of Charasa used the event to display and sell organic products and handmade crafts. The villagers also set up a local food stall where they sold food prepared from organic products.

In the evening, a film on women empowerment directed by famous Ladakhi singer, Dorjay Stakmo, was also screened. More than 400 people participated in the festival on the first day, whereas the second day saw an increase in the footfall of participants and almost 2,500 people took part in the festival. On the concluding day, Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) Nubra, Deldan Namgyal, shared that he was overwhelmed by the hospitality of the villagers and extended his support for the development of the village. He also contributed Rs 20 lakh from his funds for the village.

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