Darjeeling, the charming hill station in West Bengal, is gearing up for a grand celebration of music, sports, and culture. The Darjeeling Police is organizing the first edition of the Melo-Tea Festival and the 10th edition of the Darjeeling Hill Marathon from December 22 to 24, 2023. The event aims to promote tourism, community spirit, and anti-drug awareness in the region.
The Melo-Tea Festival will feature a rock band competition, where 12 bands from across the country and abroad will vie for a prize money of Rs 10 lakh. The bands will be judged by the members of Parikrama, one of Asia’s most popular rock bands, who will also perform at the festival. The festival will also showcase the rich and diverse heritage of Darjeeling’s ethnic communities, through food, fashion, dance, and art. Visitors will get to taste the famous Darjeeling tea, along with local delicacies and orange juice. They will also get to admire the beauty of orchids, which are abundant in the hills.
The Darjeeling Hill Marathon will be held on December 24, with seven racing events, including one exclusively for police personnel. The marathon will witness the participation of celebrities like Gulpanag and Mira Rai, who will run along with the locals and tourists to spread the message of anti-drug advocacy. The marathon will also offer attractive prizes for the winners and runners-up.
A vision of harmony and development
The Melo-Tea Festival and Hill Marathon is the brainchild of Praween Prakash, the superintendent of Darjeeling police, who is also a self-taught guitarist. Prakash said he wanted to use music and sports as tools for community development and social welfare. He said he was inspired by the Hornbill Festival of Nagaland, which is a major attraction for tourists and artists.
Prakash said he came up with the name Melo-Tea by combining ‘melody’ and ‘tea’, the two things Darjeeling is famous for. He said he was overwhelmed by the response from the bands, who applied from various parts of India and Nepal. He said he hopes to see the festival grow into a bigger and better event in the coming years.
Prakash said the festival also has a theme of crusade against drugs, which is a serious issue in the hills. He said he wants to engage the youth and the local people in positive and constructive activities, so that they do not fall prey to drug abuse. He said the festival is a way of celebrating the spirit of Darjeeling, which is known for its harmony, resilience, and creativity.
A collaboration of stakeholders
The Melo-Tea Festival and Hill Marathon is being supported by various stakeholders, including the West Bengal police, the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, the tea industry, and the cultural boards. The cost of the event is being borne by the West Bengal police under its community development initiatives and the GTA. The participants and the visitors do not have to pay any fee to attend the event.
The tea industry, represented by Chamong and Goodricke, will set up stalls to offer visitors the ‘tea experience’. They will not only sell tea leaves, but also educate the visitors about the varieties, history, and brewing methods of Darjeeling tea. They will also conduct tea tasting sessions and offer tea-infused delights.
The cultural boards, set up by the Mamata Banerjee government for the development of the hill tribes, will display their indigenous food, attire, and heritage. They will also perform traditional dances, music, and art. They will also organize a fashion show to showcase their ethnic wear.
The event will also feature an orange and orchid festival, where visitors can enjoy the fresh and juicy oranges and the stunning and fragrant orchids of Darjeeling. The event will also have fun and games for children and families.
The event is expected to attract a large number of tourists and locals, who will get to experience the best of Darjeeling in a festive atmosphere. The event will also boost the economy and the morale of the hill people, who have faced several challenges and hardships in the past.