Thousands of Bhutanese nationals gather at Zemithang in Arunachal for Gorsam Kora Festival

IANS Photo

Kolkata/Itanagar, March 9 (IANS) Thousands of Bhutanese nationals, including Buddhist monks, are currently in the picturesque Zemithang in Arunachal Pradesh, to be part of the annual Gorsam Kora Festival.

The festival that began on March 7 will continue till March 10.

Zemithang, the last administrative division of India in Arunachal Pradesh, shares its western border with Bhutan.

At the same time, it is located close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China.

The festival is held around the Gorsam Chorten Stupa dating back to the 12th century, and is older than the Tawang monastery.

Apart from the civil administration, the Indian Army's Gajraj Corps is instrumental in organising the festival. The Army has been holding several events for both pilgrims and casual visitors -- both from India and Bhutan -- over the last three days.

The Gajraj Corps, calls this 'Celebrating Shared Cultural Heritages'.

The focal point is Himalayan Buddhism which is close to the hearts of the people from both sides of the border.

"Though the festival has been going on for years, its importance has grown recently, owing to efforts by China to build stronger ties with Bhutan. The area is of strategic importance as it is a sort of tri-junction between India, Bhutan, and the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. Such events help bolster age-old ties between the people of Bhutan and India," a senior administrative official of Tawang said.

Incidentally, it was at Zemithang that the 14th Dalai Lama took his first rest on his way from Tibet to India in 1959.

While he was there, he planted a sapling at Khinzemane. Today, the sapling is a large tree and is considered holy by pilgrims who pray there.

The 93-feet-high Gorsam Chorten Stupa is modelled after the Boudhanath Khasti Stupa of Nepal.

During the festival, the devotees observe the auspicious occasion of the last day of the first month of the lunar calendar, the official said.