Discover The Wonders Of The Black-Necked Crane Festival – A Day Devoted To These Graceful Birds In Bhutan

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This unique festival will leave a lasting impression on you. With more than a hundred villagers participating, see the fascinating masked dance in honour of the black-necked cranes.

(Source: Dheywang Bhutan)

 

By Zann Huizhen Huang for the Bhutan Times

 

Held annually on November 11th in Phobjikha, the Black-Necked Crane Festival coincides with the birthday of His Majesty the King Druk Gyalpo. The festival is celebrated in the courtyard of Gangtey Goempa in the Phobjikha Valley.

Holding a special place in the hearts and folklore of the Bhutanese, the black-necked crane is also known as ‘Thrung Thrung Karmo’ in Dzongkha. They are also called ‘Lhab-bjas’ or ‘heavenly birds’ by the locals.

 

Bumdeling in Trashiyangtse district

Source: Bookmytour.bt

 

The two major migratory sites for these birds in Bhutan are Phobjikha in Wangdue district and Bumdeling in Trashiyangtse district.

The arrival of the black-necked cranes signals the coming of winter and plays an integral role in the daily lives of the villagers. Highly revered by the villagers of Phobjikha, the majestic black-necked cranes are a rare and endangered species.

Believed to be the reincarnation of two deities who are the guardians of this picturesque valley, these beautiful birds will fly around the Gangtey Goempa three times, both upon their arrival and departure. To the locals, this act represents the honouring of the three sacred jewels of Buddhism.

Background and aims of the Black-Necked Crane Festival

Inaugurated in 1998 by the Royal Society for the Protection of Nature (RSPN) and the Phobjikha Environment Management Committee (PEMC), the aims are manifold.

First of all, the festival highlights the importance of protecting the endangered black‐necked cranes while boosting tourism for the village community.

It is also a great opportunity for the villagers to showcase their unique cultural heritage.

About the Phobjikha Valley

Rising about 3000m above sea level, the Phobjikha Valley is the largest wetland in Bhutan. The magnificent Gangtey Monastery overlooks the valley with its pristine forests and subsistence farms.  

 

Black-necked cranes flying over the Phobjikha Valley

Source: Santhoshkris

 

Every year, over 300 black‐necked cranes migrate to Bhutan from Tibet to spend their winter months in this valley. They usually arrive in November and remain until the following April.

To the villagers, the annual arrival of these black-necked cranes is an event that holds great significance. It is also heartening to note that both the locals and these graceful birds have had a harmonious relationship since time immemorial.

What can you see at the Black-Necked Crane Festival?

This unique festival will leave a lasting impression on you. With more than a hundred villagers participating, see the fascinating masked dance in honour of the black-necked cranes.

 

Source: Tripfuser

 

Be delighted by the performance put up by school children who mimic the courtship dance of the cranes by bobbing their heads and flapping their wings. Photographers will be thrilled to take many shots of these adorable children all dressed up in black-necked crane costumes.

Other interesting programmes include live performances of folk songs as well as dramas with black-necked crane themes.

Benefits of the Black-Necked Crane Festival

The annual festival is an integral part of promoting ecotourism in Bhutan. The continual support and contributions of tourists will go a long way in sustaining the conservation of the black‐necked cranes.

It can also help in sustaining the financial welfare of the villagers as funds collected are deposited in a community-owned bank account for communal use.

 

 

 


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