Culture In Grains Kholey Dai Rice Festival Set To Begin

In the tiny, unknown West Bengal town of Parengtar, visitors will be enthralled by traditions and the folk scene
This year's edition of the Kholey Dai Festival will commence on 15th December and conclude on the 18th of December
This year's edition of the Kholey Dai Festival will commence on 15th December and conclude on the 18th of December

At the border of India and Bhutan in West Bengal is a small, obscure village called Parengtar, where the local community used to celebrate their first rice harvest every year. Since this tradition gradually became obsolete, an initiative to revive this culture has been undertaken. 

The "Kholey Dai Festival" organised by the Parengtar Nawlo Umanga Welfare Society, is in its second year. Still, the purpose of it remains the same&ndash to re-engage the community in the harvest celebrations so the younger generation, as well as communities from other regions, are acquainted with the values of Parengtar's culture. 

The festival isn't only confined to harvesting the crop but is also a love letter to the region's music and art scene.

When and Where

This year's edition of the festival will commence on 15th December and conclude on the 18th of December. The essentially unknown town of Parengtar has some of the most beautiful scenic vistas, with lush paddy fields and a relatively less local population. 

Preserving Tradition

West Bengal is often regarded as the rice bowl of India, with nearly half of the region's arable lands being used for cultivating the crop. Harvesting seasons herald different festivities celebrating the crop of the season and the culture they are rooted in. The state once boasted of being home to nearly 5000 varieties of indigenous varieties of rice, most of which have now disappeared due to changing ecological factors and poor agricultural techniques. One of the key focus areas for this festival is the preservation of several traditional rice varieties.

Grain by Grain

Some indigenous varieties include Kalamkati, Danarguri, Tulsibhog, Nagrasal, Bahurupi, Sitasal, Gobindabhog, Barani, Khajurchari, Keralasundari, Kabiraj, Chandrakanta, Daransal, Dangapatnai, Kataribhog, and Badshabhog. For the people of Bengal, rice isn't just a food to cook but is also an integral part of their traditions and beliefs. The different varieties of rice are used for making various dishes, from sweet rice pudding to puffed rice and bubble rice. "Kholey Dai" aims to offer visitors an immersive experience of the cultivation culture of the locals, as well as enjoy the beauty of the serene village smack in the middle of a plateau adorned by green paddy fields. 

What to do in Parengtar

Stay at one of the local homes and experience the beautiful flavours you will only get from a resident's cooking. Besides the highlight of the festival, which is the harvesting of rice, there will also be a celebration of the town's folk arts and music with performances by artists from across the Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts.

The Information

Getting there The nearest airport to Parengtar is Bagdogra Airport, some 112 km away from the village. The New Mal junction is 43 km from the place if opting 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). 

Stay&nbspVisitors can take their pick of accommodation between options of local homestays that include three meals and camping in the lap of nature. 

To do&nbspAfter the celebrations, take a nature walk through the green fields, or hike through nature trails. After sundown, bonfires and storytelling sessions are a must to get a proper feel of the place and the lives of the locals.

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