Sikkim Celebrates Assar Pandra Festival

The traditional paddy(rice) trans-plantation festival of Asaar Pandra (15th day of the month of Asaar as per Nepali calendar), was held with much fervour and enthusiasm at Dung Dung village in Khamdong, East Sikkim, today. The programme was graced by Hon’ble Minister for Agriculture Shri L.N. Sharma as the chief guest, along with Hon’ble Minister for Health Department Dr. M.K. Sharma, Hon’ble Minister for Transport Shri Sanjit Kharel, MLAs Shri Sonam Venchungpa, Shri B.K Sharma, Smt Sunita Gazmer, Shri Em Prasad Sharma, Secretary Agriculture Department Shri Rinzing Chewang Bhutia, Secretary Horticulture Department Shri M.T. Sherpa, Secretary IPR Department Ms. Namrata Thapa, and senior officers of the Agriculture and Horticulture Departments, amidst enthusiastic presence of the people of Khamdong and surrounding areas.

At the outset, the dignitaries performed the bhoomi puja as a mark of reverence to the mother earth. It may be mentioned here that the paddy land belongs to local gentry Shri. Bhim Bahadur Pradhan, Shri. K.N. Pradhan and Shri. L.P. Pradhan. Amidst traditional songs and music, popularly called ‘Bethi’, the dignitaries joined the local residents in trans-planting new seedlings of rice in the field. Traditional sounds of the ‘Naumati Baja’ and traditional songs lent festivity to the occasion. The dignitaries and other guests were treated with the significant ‘dahi chewra’ or beaten rice with curd and bananas. A brief introduction on the tradition of Asaar Pandra and Bethi was made by Shri. Hari Adhikari, a local resident and teacher by profession.

Secretary, Agriculture Department, Shri Rinzing Chewang Bhutia in his address emphasized on the importance of the agricultural sector. He said that the people of Sikkim, especially the youth, are taking keen interest in agriculture and allied activities. He stated that the challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic has tested the forbearance of the farmers. But the farmers have responded relatively well and have not let the circumstances affect them adversely. To add to the zeal of the farmers, the Agriculture and Horticulture Departments, under the guidance of the Hon’ble Minister, have initiated schemes which are designed to uplift the farmers, he stated. He shared the Department’s initiative to link the farmers with banks which will reap the desired results in days to come.

Minister for Health Department and also the Area MLA of Khamdong Singtam constituency, Dr. M.K Sharma reiterated the importance of farming as a sustainable professional and a way of life. He extended his warm greetings to the people of Khamdong and surrounding areas and dignitaries present on the occasion.
He stated that post-Corona era will be an era of agriculture and sustainable development. He called for the need to integrate traditional farming with new and scientific farming methods for optimum production. He further stated that the State Government is laying highest priority to agriculture and allied activities and urged the people to make the most of the opportunities. He extended gratitude to the people who participated in today’s festival with utmost zeal and enthusiasm, and wished them success in their endeavours.

The Chief Guest of the programme, Minister for Agriculture, Horticulture and Animal Husbandry Departments, Shri L.N. Sharma in his address stated that the purpose of organizing the festival in this manner is to encourage the farming community to take pride in this profession. He emphasized on the importance of farming in our daily lives and the contribution of farmers who toil day in and out to provide variety of products to the entire population.
He added that the vision of the State Government is to make the farmers self reliant and economically sound. He also informed the incentive provided to dairy farmers in the State. He urged the dairy farmers to take membership of Sikkim Milk Union to avail of an upcoming incentive scheme.

The Minister explained the economic viability of agriculture as a profession. He said that Agriculture, Horticulture and Animal Husbandry Departments has focused more on the fields rather than files. He added that all the officers are totally involved with the farming community and are eager to lend all required assistance.
The Minister informed of several agricultural schemes to ensure that agriculture will be the most viable profession. He also explained the concept of Green Economy. He informed of the Credit Subsidy Programme being launched from West Sikkim and subsequently in other districts. He explained about the details of the scheme and urged all the farmers to avail of the benefits. He also appealed to the farmers to inculcate a culture of timely repayment of the loans for long term benefits.

The Minister also urged the beneficiaries who received the agricultural inputs today to utilize them to the optimum.
The Minister also shared the special economic incentive package for the cultivation of Ginger, Cadamom, Turmeric, Orange and Buckwheat which was announced by the Hon’ble Chief Minister recently. He also informed the Terrace Farming scheme for urban dwellers to keep them healthy and happy.Earlier, it was also announced that the long pending aspiration of the people of Khamdong for the establishment of National Institute of Technology (NIT) in Khamdong has materialized, and the same has been sanctioned by the Government.

On the occasion, amount of land compensation were also presented to the fillowing land owners namely, Shri Ram Pradhan, Ganga Prasad Lamichaney, Sonam Thendup Bhutia and Hari Lal Dhakal for NIT campus in Khamdong.
Further, the Chief Guest handed over Agricultural inputs like chaff cutter, power tiller, poly pipe, spray machine under Agriculture Department. Likewise, UV film, tubular Green House, gnap tank, micro irrigation pipes, and vermi compost were distributed under Horticulture Department.Similarly, milch cow, backyard poultry, and chaff cutter were distributed under Animal Husbandry Department.This was followed by Carp distribution under Intensive Fish Farming scheme from the Directorate of Fisheries.

Report by Prakash, Special Correspondent Sikkim

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