If you have been planning a trip to the mountains, take out some time to experience the unique Kholey Dai festival in the eastern Himalayas. It is known to be the most loved community festival of Kalimpong.
The four-day rice harvest festival will be organised at Parentgar along the Bhutan border of Kalimpong district from December 15 to 17.
About Kholey Dai
Kholey Dai is a yearly rice harvest festival celebrated zealously in the serene village of Parengtar in the Kalimpong district. Rice is a staple of Himalayan cuisine and an essential component of everyday meals. Visitors to the Kholey Dai festival will be able to interact directly with the rural community and learn about the evolution of rice from the field to the plate through participation.
Why The Festival?
The goal is to revive and re-establish the community's culture suited to rice-grain harvesting, known as 'dai' in Nepali. Such traditions have disappeared with time, so the festival programme aims to re-engage the community in activities that will reaffirm the ideals of the local culture as a whole. This event is an ideal opportunity for visitors to join and immerse themselves in the village culture, while also being an amazing opportunity for Parengtar people to retain their cultural essence.
Sustainable And Local
You will live among the people of this riverine town on the Indo-Bhutan border and gain a look into their daily lives. The active participation of rural communities in the festival's conceptualisation and organisation is what characterises it. The event is a vital component of the community tourism model created in Parengtar by the organising team and village residents, which strives to incorporate every community area. The festival, now in its third year, promotes a cycle economy by making optimal use of local resources from the community itself. As part of community tourism, local residences in the hamlet are encouraged to provide accommodation as homestays for festival attendees. Some of the festival's proceeds are also donated to the Parengtar Society's welfare.
On Your Plates
The festival will be your chance to experience a wealth of local dishes and flavours of the Himalayas. During your visit, you can enjoy traditional food prepared using local ingredients. Palina Rai will bring the flavours of the kiratis to the festival all the way from Kathmandu. Palina is the founder of Boju Store, a social enterprise that works with farmers from the hills and Himalayas to promote, market, and sell unique indigenous products. You can sign up for her workshop for some enriching experiences.
Music For Your Ears
Dance to the rhythm of the damphu and hum along with the sad murchunga. Musicians, bands, and artists from the Darjeeling Hills, Sikkim, North East India, and Nepal will congregate for Kholey Dai 3.0.
The artist's line-up for the third edition of Kholey Dai festival includes
singer/songwriter Bipul Chettri, whose music is reminiscent of tunes and melodies long forgotten over time, draws influence from the Himalayas' traditional sounds. Nature's beauty frequently inspires his lyrics. Chhetri has been a voting member for the Recording Academy/Grammys for the year 2022-23 and continues to be so for 2023-24 as well. He has toured and performed in the USA, U.K., Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Hong Kong, UAE and across cities in India and Nepal.
You can camp out in the countryside of Parengtar as you hear singer Bipul Chettri's 'Akasaima tara, juneli raat’ come to life. Expect a night of bonfire, music, and conversations, and exchanging stories, listening to music over delicious barbeque meals and a glass of tongba.
The Parengtar Nawlo Umanga Welfare Society is organising this festival in collaboration with Muhaan, Backwoods Adventure Camp, and Cafe Kalimpong.
Accomodation: You can choose from two types of accommodation, Local homestays and camping tents. Single occupancy with breakfast fees are Rs 2,000 per day with a festival pass; Rs 7,000 for four days (December 14 check-in and December 18 check-out). Rooms with double occupancy with breakfast will be Rs 3,500 (two people) per day with a festival pass and Rs 12,500 for four days. The charges include admission to the festival on specified reserved dates, live gigs, cultural performances, and all festival activities, accommodation in local homestays/camps during the festival, and breakfast.
The nearest airport to Parengtar is Bagdogra Airport, around 112 km away from the village. The New Mal junction is 43 km from the place if you opt for a train journey. You can also travel from neighbouring cities like Gangtok (159 km), Darjeeling (137 km), Siliguri (96 km) and Kalimpong (114 km).