Saturday, January 30, 2016

Mazhitar Food and Drink Festival 2016: Towards wider audience

Prashant Tamang, Indian Idol winner, Remanti Rai, Sikkim State Awardee, Damber Nepali, famed singer from Nepal was among the artistes who wrapped up the closing night of the three day long Mazhitar Food and Drink 2016 held at Mazhitar SS’s ground.  The combination of music and food supported by innovative glimpses of West Pandam Constituency made a huge impact to the people of Mazhitar and beyond. Interested visitors (thanks to its huge publicity) from places like Siliguri, Darjeeling, and different corners of the State have made the organizing committee think big for the next season.
Sikkim is no new to organizing such events and is known across the globe for promoting its culture, costume and traditions. But in few reasons, Mazhitar Food and Drink 2016 were different from others. As an observer, I hereby would like to share some of my favourite that made the event something different from the rest.
What I appreciated the most at Mazhitar Food and Drink 2016 was the presence of less known Mazhi Community. The growth and development of a then small place Mazhitar has grown up over the last couple of decades, the name Mazhitar is now synonym with famed SMIT and the Medicine Factory. Despite that a small community of around 27 houses thrives in this area from whom the name of the place was set up – the Mazhi community.
Mazhitar, the flat land of the Mazhi community as it was known in the early days. It was very pleasant to lookout their traditional fishing items and foods made from fishes being offered at their provided stall. I had an opportunity to talk with a senior Mazhi man who thanked the organizing committee for inviting them in their first ever presentation of their culture and tradition. I was very sad to hear with a population of less than five hundreds limited to Mazhitar surrounding and Jorethang, this community is fighting for the survival in Sikkim. All credits to the people behind the event for proving an opportunity for the general public to learn about Mazhi community.

Next to it, Ashbir Rai Memorial Gorkha Museum from Singlebong exhibited old traditional items used by the Gorkha communities. I got a chance to closely feel those rare old-style items of the past. Most of the household items were made from bamboos, woods and straws, collectively more than 80- 90 years. Watching those items, it seemed the wheel of clock had stopped. We should encourage such events where apart from fun and entertainment we do get a taste of our heritage. Credits should be given to Sukdeo Rai, person behind the collections for preserving such old heritage for our coming generation. Rai says the fast moving today’s generation needs to know about these items, they are part of our legacy. How true!!
Sikkim Photographic Society, Singtam made its first public appearance with exhibition cum sale display of over seventy photographs taken within Sikkim. The photo exhibition was one of the crowded stalls of the three day event. All thanks to Suresh Lama, promoter of Mazhitar Food and Drink 2016 for inviting PSS.
Historical findings at the popular Pandam Gaari were another path breaking thought that presented the heritage of West Pandam Constituency. It is amazing how those historic materials make an impact in the development of a place. I am afraid to say, despite the unearthed tools being displayed in different places before little has been done to know more about it.  Litti, a popular Bihari community food items found many lovers. People whole heartedly enjoyed the taste of Bihari cushine, Sherpa cushine, Gurung cushine and others.
And who can forget the singing stage debut of young phenomenal teenager Barsa Rai from South Sikkim.  Popularity of Barsa Rai, all thanks to social media was justified by her song. Her stage appearance on the final day of the event was the most anticipated performance despite celebrated singers making their presence. We got to see the other side of Sikkim State Awardee Remanti Rai who shared her stage with Barsa Rai and encouraged her.  Truly a Sikkimese style!!