Litfest: Namita Gokhale, 52, a well-known Indian writer and one of the co-founders of Mountain Echoes said four years on the festival had taken deeper roots in the country.
The writer of 11 books, who has been working behind the festival for four years said the idea of attending the sessions, expressing one’s mind and listening have found a comfortable place in Bhutan.
“In a new democracy, we have to learn the value of speaking and saying one’s mind,” she said, adding the Bhutanese were gradually shedding their shyness.
“Bhutanese are now taking more ownership of the festival and many are willing to speak their minds and share their thoughts,” she said.
She also said many new books had come up this year by Bhutanese authors and that it was only growing.
The festival, she said had have expanded, in that many people from different countries were attending the festival and the circle of people participating in the sessions were also growing.
“The word of the festival is spreading and many people are now coming up to attend the festival today,” she said.
Her Majesty the Queen Mother Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck and former Indian ambassador Pavan K Varma had first conceptualised the idea of Mountain Echoes, which brought many Indian writers to come to Bhutan and many Bhutanese writers to visit India.
“The kind of dialogue and friendship the festival created will always remain important,” she said.
Through the festival, Namita Gokhale said, she hoped people not only realised the importance of reading but the importance of opening up one’s mind, to challenge and think for oneself.
“It’s the right platform for young minds and upcoming readers to cultivate mindfulness into their lives and bring out better perception of life,” she said.
Namita Gokhale said she was committed to bringing out the best in Indian writing and has taken up various literary festivals all over India.
Bhutan, she said represented all the people in the Himalayan belt.
“Whenever I reach Bhutan, I feel a sense of home and I have been always drawn to Bhutan,” she said, adding that the deep friendship between the people of the two countries had grown at a personal level.
“Writers from the two countries are exchanging their thoughts and are inspired by each other,” she said. “It’s a magnificent encounter. The festival is here to stay.”
By Thinley Zangmo