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Sakura: A New initiative towards India’s First Cherry Blossom Festival

New Delhi, March 08 (G’nY News Service): Cherry Blossom, popularly known as Sakura in Japanese, is a symbol of Peace and tranquility. There is a centuries old practice in Japan of enjoying picnic under the blooming Sakura trees known as Hanami which is said to have started during 7th century AD. Some records indicate that Hanami festivals might started as early as 3rd century AD. The custom which was originally limited to the elite Imperial court slowly spread to the Japanese Samurai society and subsequently to the common people.

Hanami Festivals/Sakura Festivals or Cherry Blossom Festivals celebrate the beauty of these wonderful flowers in full bloom covering the whole tree which last only for 10-15 days. People come in large numbers to parks, shrines, temples, road sides, schools, public places etc. to enjoy the beautiful sites of full blossoms and relax under these trees. There are two types of cherries, one for fruits and the other is ornamental and it has been speculated that the probable origin of cherry is Himalayas and Cherry trees belong to the genus Prunus and family Rosaceae which are closely related to almond, peach, plum and apricot. Japan has a wide variety of cherry blossoms having well over 200 cultivars and the Japanese Cherry Blossom Association has developed a list of Japan’s top 100 cherry blossom spots with at least one location in every prefecture.

Japan has been planting the cherry blossom trees in several countries to spread the message of peace and in strengthening of bilateral friendship. Japan gave 3,020 Sakura trees as a gift to the United States in 1912 to celebrate the nation’s growing friendship. This gift was renewed with another 3,800 trees in 1965. Today, there are a number of Cherry Blossom trees grown in different cities of United States of America including the famous Sakura Park in Manhattan, New York and West Potomac Park in Washington D.C which are popular tourist attractions. The International Cherry Blossom Festival in Georgia, features over 300,000 cherry trees. Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Diego, and several other cities have thousands of such Sakura trees. Japan has been promoting Cherry Blossom Plantation in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Netherland, New Zealand, South Korea, Turkey, United Kingdom and several other countries.

In 2014, I decided to use this unique Bioresource to promote ecotourism in North East  which will ultimately lead to the Socio-Economic development of the region.  In April 2015, I decided to create Cherry Blossom Avenues in Meghalaya by planting thousands of native Sakura trees. On May 14, 2015, Institute of Bioresources and Sustainable Development (IBSD) in association with the Government of Meghalaya officially launched large scale Avenue Cherry Plantation for India’s first Cherry Blossom Festival. This event generated a lot of interest and curiosity not only in India but also overseas.On May 29, 2015, we planted a number of Sakura trees at “India Peace Memorial” in Manipur on the occasion of 71stAnniversary Battle of Imphal, World War-II.

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Several students and teachers from Delhi University colleges participated in India’s first Sakura Plantation ceremony at Talkotra Garden on February 11, 2016.

I am happy that a Japanese delegation comprising eminent people from GIFU SAKURA NO KAI  in association with  Institute of Bioresources and Sustainable Development, India have launched the Sakura Plantation at Delhi  through a  Ceremony . Further, Delhi has now become the 38th City and the First in India to hold such a prestigious event. I am sure this will not only strengthen the ties of friendship between India and Japan but also bring international peace and prosperity.

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