The Aadi Mahotsav, a nine-day tribal festival and the Centre’s first official function in Ladakh after the government decided to make it a Union Territory, will kick off at the Polo Grounds in Leh on Saturday evening. Home Minister Amit Shah was scheduled to inaugurate the event but he opted out on Friday citing “preoccupation in Delhi”.
Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satyapal Malik will now inaugurate the event in the presence of Union Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda, MoS Tribal Affairs Renuka Singh and Ladakh MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal. Shah sent a message wishing “success to the event, and hoping it leads to the expansion of the displayed tribal skills to other parts of the country”.
Officials in the Tribal Affairs Ministry said they have been conducting such mega fairs in all the 27 states with tribal population but could not conduct one earlier in Jammu and Kashmir as they never got a response from the administration. “Now with Ladakh becoming a UT, the response was immediate and the event has been scaled up manifold,” the official said, adding that as many as 80 tribal artisans from 20 states are landing in Leh to showcase their products in the company of an equal number of local artisans.
Pravir Krishna, Managing Director, TRIFED, the nodal agency under the ministry which organises the Aadi Mahotsav, said, “We have decided to include Ladakhi pashmina, seabuckthorn and apricots produced extensively in the region under our Van Dhan scheme, which will now be sold in all parts of the country and also sent to 190 countries through Amazon.”
While the government has planned 500 such exhibitions in the country in 2019-20, this is the first time that the Aadi Mahotsav is being held in Ladakh. Even when the region was part of Jammu and Kashmir, an event of this magnitude was never allowed in Leh, officials said. On the Aadi Mahotsav’s Kashmir edition, Krishna said, “Even if we are not able to plan one in Srinagar this year, we shall try and conduct several smaller events in other parts of the UT of Jammu & Kashmir.”
A camp will be held for local artisans on the sidelines where they will be taught marketing and packaging skills to enable them to get more money for their produce. “For instance, apricot sold as apricot has a shelf life of seven days and gets Rs 100 a kilo, while if it’s turned into jam and jelly, it gets more money and becomes non-perishable,” Krishna said.