The third edition of the Shillong Cherry Blossom Festival well and truly overcame its detractors and the weather to conclude on a high on Sunday.
The RBDSA Sports Complex transformed into a pulsating hub of music, capping off an amazing day of festivities.
The festival’s grand finale featured a stellar lineup of artists, international, national and local, creating an atmosphere of musical enchantment. The line-up included Sanam, Ronan Keating, Jonas Blue, Lou Majaw, Blue Temptation, Daminot, Nokpante and others, delivering performances that resonated with the diverse audience gathered to bid farewell to this extraordinary celebration.
Keating was the showstopper, with the veteran getting everyone to sing along to some of his classic tracks.
One moment stood out, however, and that was when a devoted fan of his raised a banner proclaiming, “Ronan, I love you more than pork.”
To everyone’s surprise, Keating replied, “I love you more than pork too,” adding a touch of humor to the festival’s conclusion. The unexpected exchange left both fans and onlookers delighted, creating a memorable moment at the event.
“The 90s were magic. We had six great years in the band (Boyzone)… We got to come to India, we performed in a couple of cities, never got to come to Shillong…. Sadly… but I am here tonight. I had to come and say hello. We had great years together, we finished in 2019 we went our separate ways and we wrote that final chapter ourselves. But now on every stage I stand on, I fly the flag for Boyzone,” he said.
The Cherry Blossom Festival had its challenges to overcome this year. Certain groups took umbrage that its concluding day was a Sunday and then tropical storm Midhili forced the first day on Friday to be cancelled entirely on safety grounds.
“This edition of the Shillong Cherry Blossom Festival has been the most successful in terms of footfall of tourists as well as the line-up of the artists,” Tourism Minister Paul Lyngdoh, who was present on the final day, was quoted as saying in a press release today. “Around 70 percent of the total festival goers are visiting Meghalaya to witness our exciting line-up. The music has been eclectic, ranging from traditional Khasi melodies to Bollywood to grunge and reggae, amidst many more. It has been heartening to witness the convergence of music, nature and culture in such a beautiful way.”
Also present was the Japanese Ambassador to India. Japan Foundation is holding a separate cultural event in Shillong, which also concluded on Sunday. Japan is well known for its cherry blossoms – far more so than Meghalaya – and Lyngdoh said that the Meghalaya and Japanese governments are exploring an exciting exchange programme in relation to the cherry blossom.