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Namsoong Festival gets under way in Sikkim
A correspondent
 GANGTOK, Jan 2 - Sikkim is immersed in a festive mood with the advent of the Namsoong Festival, celebrated by the indigenous Lepcha community to mark the joy of harvesting on the one hand and veneration of local deities on the other.

 Karma Loday Bhutia, Minister of Forest, Environment and Wildlife; Mines, Mineral and Geology; and Science and Technology, on Thursday inaugurated a three-day State-level Namprikdang Namsoong Festival on the Namprikdang ground at Upper Dzongu in North Sikkim. Samdup Lepcha, Minister for Public Works Department and Culture Affairs and Heritage Department, was present on the occasion. The in-charge of Dzongu constituency, Chungkipu Lepcha, District Magistrate of North, Tenzing T Kaleon, heads of government and local dignitaries also attended the inauguration programme.

The festival is being organised by the Namprikdang Namsoong Celebration Committee. Earlier, minister Bhutia was accorded a warm welcome by the Namprikdang Namsoong Celebration Committee. He also visited the traditional food stalls put up by different departments and self-help groups.

Speaking on the occasion, minister Bhutia stated that Dzongu is a sacred region of Sikkim with its own identity, culture and history. The general people of Dzongu need to join hands in preserving its uniqueness, he stressed.

The minister added that Dzongu has great tourism potential, and so the young generation should come forward to harness opportunities for economic progress. He also urged the youths of Dzongu to take up sports as an alternative career due to its vast scope.

The minister assured that the State Government would give priority to all sectors for the holistic development of Dzongu. Dzongu is a reserved area for the Leocha tribe of Sikkim. The first day of the Namsoong Festival also featured traditional dances and sports competitions.

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