Mizoram has become the third state in India’s northeast to get a Cherry Blossom Avenue, with Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla planting a sapling of the flowering tree at the New Secretariat Complex in Aizawl.
“The cherry blossom is a symbol of peace, prosperity and tranquility and has brought peace in countries where it has been planted,” Dinabandhu Sahoo, Director of the Imphal-based Institute of Bioresources and Sustainable Development (IBSD), he said.
The IBSD, a national institute under the central government’s Department of Biotechnology, launched Cherry Blossom Avenues in Manipur and Meghalaya last May.
The purpose behind Cherry Blossom Avenue
The beautiful cherry blossom tree unlike the cherry fruit, blooms in full glory,it is so majestic to look at and blooms only for short period.
“Just as people go all the way to Holland to watch tulips flowering, cherry blossoms can also be a huge tourist attraction,” said Sahoo, who is now in mission-mode to launch Cherry Blossom Avenues across the northeast.
The tradition of planting cherry blossoms (called sakura in Japanese) started in Japan. The Sakura Festival started during third century and continues to be a huge tourist attraction.
To convey the message of peace, the Japanese have been planting cherry blossoms across different countries of the world. Sahoo explained, is that the cherry blossom actually originated in the Himalayas but did not get popularised in the Himalayan nations like India, Nepal and Bhutan.
“When I was invited to IIM-Shillong in 2014 while I was a professor in Delhi University, I noticed a cherry blossom tree from my hotel room,” he said.
“It was the first cherry blossom I saw in India. I thought if cherry blossom can bring prosperity to Japan and many other countries, why can it not for India, especially in the northeast”, he added.
According to Sahoo, cherry blossom plantation can give a big boost to the economy, especially in the tourism sector, in the northeast by generating large-scale employment.He also pointed out that one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) the UN adopted in September last year is “peace, justice and strong institutions”.