Billed as India’s first “Adventure and Rock-n-Roll Fest,” the Orange Festival brought energy and excitement to an unlikely place.
More than 2,500 people together at Dambuk just 186 miles from the Chinese border at the southern tip of Tibet.
Here in Arunachal Pradesh state, thousands of soldiers are deployed due to regional instability and border tension. For one day in mid-December, however, they remained at ease and mingled with festival goers who enjoyed a night of live music, local rice wine and adventure sports.
The festival served as an excellent opportunity for India’s army to gain the trust of the local population.
Soldiers even had their own tent where they showcased their arms and locals explored their artillery.
“There was a friendly vibe between the army and locals that many here believe is unthinkable just across the border in Tibet,” according to BBC India.
The Sino-Indian border issue emerged as far back as 1914 when India’s former colonial ruler Britain signed a pact with Tibet, making the McMahon Line the de-facto border between the two countries. Beijing always has rejected this.
But, the party almost never made it to the festival grounds in its entirety.
A ferry carrying performers and equipment got stuck on a sandbank on the Brahmaputra River (which originates in Tibet as Tsangpo).
On a different stretch of the river, a bus carrying performers got stuck.
“The tires were submerged, and the water was just inches away from getting into the bus,” said Rakshit Tewari, a Mumbai-based musician who spoke with BBC India. “A local guy said that if it rained up in the mountains before the rescue team arrived, we could be washed away in the valley.”
After a few hours of being scrambled, a rescue vehicle found the bus and personnel evacuated passengers at dawn.
Hari Singh, who leads the logistics team of motor-sports professionals, went to rescue the people trapped on the ferry.
No doubt, an adventure from start to finish. And it went out with a bang.