India Interior

In all its pink glory

Preeti Mehra | Updated on March 10, 2018

Cheery sight Dinabandhu Sahoo, Director of IBSD, has initiated the country’s first-ever Cherry Blossom Festival at Shillong, Meghalaya

The cherry blossom tree will soon be a vital part of the North-East landscape

Taking a leaf (literally) out of Japan’s culture, avenues lined with cherry blossom trees will now lead the way for promoting sustainable tourism in the North-East.

In the past year, Sakura — the magnificent quintessential Japanese tree — has made its formal debut in the country. And in a couple of months we will witness the first Cherry Blossom Festival in Meghalaya. Cherry blossom avenues are also coming up in Manipur and Mizoram.

It took two years of concerted effort by Prof Dinabandhu Sahoo, Director of the Imphal-based Institute of Bioresources and Sustainable Development (IBSD) to woo State governments into embracing the cherry blossom plant.

“On my several trips to Japan I had witnessed the beauty of the cherry blossom tree and later I was lucky to attend a Sakura Festival. I was amazed at the way it was conducted and that it represented peace and tranquillity,” he recalls.

In 2014, he happened to stumble upon a cherry blossom tree in full bloom at the Indian Institute of Management, Shillong. That stirred the idea of using the domestic tree to rejuvenate the landscape, promote sustainable tourism and boost the economy of the North-East.

When Sahoo was appointed director at IBSD, he could finally put his cherry blossom vision into action. It will culminate in the country’s first Cherry Blossom festival this November.

In Japan the tradition of planting cherry blossoms dates back to the third century. Apart from attracting tourists in large numbers, it has been used to convey the message of peace. In fact the Japanese have been planting cherry blossoms in different countries. New Delhi was the 38th city where the Sakura planting ceremony took place.

Sahoo points out that the tree is known to have a positive psychological impact and is ideal for the North-East, which is among the top ten biodiversity geographies in the world. “We have planted 3,000 trees along the Assam-Shillong highway, which will transform the drive into a wonderful experience. We have also discovered red cherry blossoms that bloom in March,” he says with an enthusiasm that is easy to catch.

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Published on September 09, 2016
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