Cherry Blossom Festival 2021 begins at Shillong

Shillong, Nov 25 (PTI) The three-day Cherry Blossom Festival was on Thursday inaugurated by Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma and Ambassador of Japan to India Satoshi Suzuki at the scenic Wards Lake here.

The festival coincides with the blooming of pink cherry blossom flowers that dot the state capital here and across the state at this time of the year.

The popular event was cancelled due to the COVID pandemic last year.

The first edition of the Shillong Literary Festival was also inaugurated on the occasion.

In his address, Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma expressed happiness to host the Cherry Blossom Festival again this year and gave an assurance that the government is trying to make it an annual event and more innovative by promoting music, art and culture.

For a region like the Northeast that has immense talent, it is not only about giving people a platform but also providing them the opportunity to come together to learn and share their ideas and talents, he said.

Competitions, including singing and dancing, fashion shows, local wine-making, and Japanese and Korean food preparation, will be held during the festival.

Sangma said that as Meghalaya will be celebrating its 50 years of attaining statehood in 2022, several programmes have been lined up that will enable the youth to showcase their talents.

For the first time, the government in the next few months will engage with musicians of the state in a very constructive manner by giving budding local musicians a platform so that they can take up music as a career option, he said.

He hoped that the Shillong Literary Festival, which is being held for the first time, will give an opportunity to writers, readers and authors of the state to connect with literary figures from across the country.

Addressing the gathering, Satoshi Suzuki said that the Cherry Blossom Festival will build a people-to-people relationship not only within the country but between Japan and India.

Exchange of programmes between two nations is essential to enhance cultural ties and Japan has been inviting promising young leaders from the Northeast region under the Japanese programme Iris and Indian students have resumed travelling to Japan under the Japanese scholarship programme, he said.

He added that the North East enjoys a strategic location that is key to the realisation of Japan’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) vision.

Japan is proud of being a reliable and staunch partner for the Northeast based on our historical ties, trust and friendship, the shining example of our assistance to the region is the North East Road Connectivity Project which will greatly benefit Meghalaya and enhance connectivity with Assam and Bangladesh, he added.

He also said that the conservation of nature is also a key area and Japan has been assisting in realising sustainable development through JAICA’s projects for community-based forest management and improvement of libraries. PTI