Join The Asaar Pandhra Festival
Feel the magic of Asar Pandhra, the Nepali festival heralding the paddy planting season. Immerse into the rich heritage of rice fields in the serene village of Parengtar, Jaldhaka. Soak in the rain, play with mud, and celebrate a community united by sustainability and zero-waste practices. Embrace this opportunity to immerse into the lived realities of rural life in the Eastern Himalayas.
What is Asaar Pandhra Festival?
Asar Pandhra, or the fifteenth of Asar in the Nepali calendar, marks the official commencement of the paddy planting season in the hills. The month of Asar (June-July) holds profound significance as farmers unite to sow new rice seedlings in their fields. In the village of Parengtar, the time-honored tradition of sowing rice is lovingly preserved and celebrated as Asaar Pandra Festival. In this unique one-day event, all generations come together to play games and dance in the rain-soaked soil, indulge in the simplicity of Himalayan cuisine, and sow seeds that hold promises of abundance. With a steadfast commitment to zero waste practices and sustainability, the community rice fields reverberate with the fragrance of wet soil and songs of pride for natural and cultural heritage.
Asar Pandhra offers an extraordinary opportunity for visitors to embrace and understand the lived realities of rural life in the Eastern Himalayas. We welcome you to release your inhibitions, connect with your inner child and embrace the healing touch of Mother Nature in this one-of-a-kind event.
Parengtar is a small village located at the Indo-Bhutan border in Patangodak Gram Panchayat under Gorubathan Block, Kalimpong, West Bengal. The word Parengtar in Nepali translates to "A Plateau of Pareng". It is believed that the village was once a Bamboo forest (Pareng being a certain type of bamboo). During Asaar Pandhra Festival, the village reverberates with the fragrance of wet soil and young green paddy. It is the perfect time to meander through Parengtar's unique landscape through short hikes and enriching community visits. A brief and scenic downhill walk will give you a glimpse of the glorious Jaldhaka River and the looming hills of Bhutan.
Celebrate Rural Culture
Witness the intricate indigenous Kirati rituals of planting rice in the Himalayas. Then join in the thrill of ancient village games, an integral part of our festival that energises the tenuous atmosphere. Delight in the local food of Asar Pandhra and experience the flavours of the monsoon. Don’t forget to explore the zero-waste stalls offering a variety of traditional dishes.
Participate in Parengtar's Local Games
Engage in friendly competitions that energise the community and give relief from the hard work of planting rice. These inclusive games cater to all ages and include sapling sowing competitions, passing the sapling, mud races, tug of war, climbing the pole, and more.
Treat Yourself To Enriching Organic Cuisine
Go on a culinary adventure that celebrates the season and the spirit of togetherness. Begin by sharing the auspicious dahi chiura, a combination of curd and beaten rice that is a staple during the festival and provides a quick and nutritious meal for busy farmers. Enjoy the simple nourishment of an authentic village spread replete with monsoon delicacies like bamboo shoots, kalo dal (black lentils), and khukra ko jhol (local chicken soup).
Understand Farming & Ethnic Traditions
Appreciate cultural performances that showcase the rich art forms of the region. Visit a grassroots museum set up by the village youth that gives you an insight into the village's history and farming practices.
Immerse Into Healing
Let the humdrum of the rain lull you to relaxation. In the paddy fields, splash into the nourishing soil and let it ease your old aches. Play village games with young children and old folks & join in the laughter of the community as they dance through the toil of planting for sustenance. Lend a hand in environmental healing by amplifying sustainable practices initiated by the community. Make the most of this time to disconnect from the noise of reality & reconnect with your carefree soul.
Connect With Community
Enhance your Asar Pandhra experience by choosing to stay in local homestays. Embrace the warm hospitality of the people of Parengtar, who graciously open their doors and share their spare rooms with guests. This is also your chance to forge intimate connections, create lasting memories, and gain an empathetic understanding of life in the Eastern Himalayas.
THINGS TO KNOW
Day 1 - 29th June:
Arrival at Parengtar: Participants, possibly arriving from Siliguri, are expected to reach Parengtar by 4 p.m. Upon arrival, guests will be greeted and directed to their respective local homestays.
Bonding with Hosts: Guests can take some time to rest and familiarize themselves with their hosts. This provides an opportunity for meaningful interactions and establishing connections.
Orientation and Introduction: In the evening, the organizers and the team of Muhaan will conduct an orientation session to introduce the guests to the event. They will provide information about the festival, its significance, and the activities planned. This will ensure everyone is well-informed and prepared.
Dinner at Homestays: Dinner will be served in the comfort of each guest's respective homestay, allowing them to relax and enjoy a delicious meal.
Day 2 - 30th June:
Morning at Homestay: Start the day with a nourishing breakfast at your homestay, prepared with local flavors and ingredients.
Festival Venue Visit: At 8:30 a.m., guests will make their way to the festival venue. Immersed in the vibrant atmosphere, the celebrations will commence with offerings and a traditional Kirati bhumi puja. This ceremony involves praying to mother earth for a prosperous farming season.
Engaging Activities: Asar Pandhra, a lively segment of the festival, will kick off following the puja. It features exciting local games that embrace the playful side of mud and rain. Guests will have the opportunity to participate and enjoy these unique experiences.
Community Bonding: A highlight of the day is the collective rice planting activity, fostering a sense of unity and camaraderie among the participants and the local community. Following this, a community lunch will be provided by the organizing committee, starting with a staple dish called dahi chiura (curd and beaten rice).
Cultural Showcase: Throughout the day, there will be captivating cultural performances showcasing the rich traditions of the region. Additionally, stalls offering local zero-waste food and products will be available, providing a glimpse into the sustainable practices of the community.
Evening Get-Together: As the day transitions into the evening, guests will have the opportunity to come together, engage in musical jamming sessions, and relish the nostalgic ambiance that the festival evokes.
Dinner at Homestays: Once again, dinner will be arranged in the comfort of each guest's homestay, allowing for relaxation and a chance to reflect on the day's experiences.
Day 3 - 1st July:
Departure: After a satisfying breakfast served in their homestays, guests can prepare for their departure. This marks the end of the memorable festival experience, with fond memories and newfound connections with the community.
How To Reach
Nearest railway station- New Jalpaiguri (NJP)
NJP to Parengtar- 2 hr 36 min (96.1 km)
Nearest airport - Bagdogra
Bagdogra to Parengtar - 3 hr 16 min (119.8 km)
There are no direct bus routes till Parengtar, but you can get a
bus to Bindu and drop down at Jholung Stand which is about 2kms from Parengtar.
You can also get direct share taxi from Pani Tanki more,Siliguri from 1 p.m to 3 p.m. Or you can come to Malbazar from where you can get regular cars till 3 p.m.
We can arrange your pick up/drop to and from NJP/Bagdogra/Siliguri. This cost is not included in the tour package. Reach out to us for more information.