Ladakh fest loses saffron hue | india | Hindustan Times
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Ladakh fest loses saffron hue

The saffron tag has been taken off the Sindhu Darshan festival in Ladakh.

india Updated: Jun 01, 2006 03:34 IST

The saffron tag has been taken off the Sindhu Darshan festival in Ladakh. On instructions from the central government, the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) has rechristened the annual festival Ladakh Singhey Khababs Spring Festival. (Singhe Khababs means the river that comes out the lion's mouth.)

Planned by the Sangh Parivar and choreographed by the BJP government around a decade ago, the festival had ignited an uproar among a section of Ladakhis — because of the political and communal shades it had taken.

The festival is held on the banks of the Indus near Shey village from where one can have a panoramic view of central Ladakh valley. Over the years, it became the single biggest draw for tourists, particularly Hindus who worship the Sindh river.

This year, the festival will begin on June 12. Chering Dorjay, chairman of LAHDC, says the name of the festival has been changed in order to involve local people who had, over the years, disassociated themselves from it. He denies there was any pressure.

But other local leaders like Sonam Wangchuk, MLA, say they were shocked at the change of name. Wangchuk, one of the key persons involved in the development of tourism in the area, says buckling under pressure would work against the interests of Ladakh for which the festival is organised every year.

The festival is aimed at promoting Ladakh as one of ‘Incredible India’s’ tourist destinations. When it was launched a decade ago, domestic tourists hardly visited Ladakh. It was mostly the European tourists who visited the place. However, over the years, the festival has become the single-most important domestic tourist draw.