By Rajiv Kimta
Manali, Feb 12 : A five-day long winter carnival is underway at Manu Rangshala here with winter sports stealing the show at the festival.
The winter sports event is being held once again after a gap of 22 years with improvement in the infrastructure.
More than 500 teams are participating in the competitions. Teams from more than ten states are also taking part in the events.
"Around 100 participants are participating each day. There are ten to twelve clubs. Apart from that, ITBP, BSF teams are also practicing," said Himanshu, an organiser, Winter Sports.
The five-day long winter carnival is showcasing the country's cultural treasures, which have attracted a lot of participants.
"We are feeling very nice here. We have chosen a village song from Ladakh. We sing this song when we have a gathering in Ladakh and also dance to the tune of this song," said Aangmo, a participant from Ladakh.
At the end of the festival, a beauty competition will also be held and the winner of the competition will be declared 'Miss Winter Queen'.
The winter carnival, a regular feature, is a unique youth festival in which teams drawn from various youth clubs, colleges and universities from all over the country compete in many events. A panel of judges assesses the performance.
The annual event, which started in the late '70s, was declared a state-level festival three years back in a bid to promote tourism in the state.
Tourism is the mainstay of state's economy, which generates about 100 million dollars annually. Approximately, 35,000 tourists visit Manali every month during winters.
Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal inaugurated winter sports including skiing competitions as part of the winter carnival on Sunday.