Litfest: With Ani Choying’s chants of peace setting the mood for the fest, the mountains for the next three days will again reverberate with stories that literature scholars from Bhutan and India would share, as they engage in a cultural dialogue for the fourth time.
The fourth Mountain Echoes, Bhutan’s festival of literature, art and culture opened yesterday evening in Thimphu, on the heels of the elections, with a lamp lighting ceremony at the India House estate. The event was initially scheduled for May, but was postponed for the elections.
Indian ambassador to Bhutan, V P Haran, said the primary focus was literature when the festival started in 2010. “It has now slowly expanded to encompass many other facets, mainly performing arts, paintings and music, and has now become the most important instrument of soft power confluence between India and Bhutan,” he said in his welcome address. “It’s heartening to note that there is greater participation from Bhutan and that it has resulted in renewed interest in writing and reading in Bhutan.”
The fourth manifestation of the Mountain Echoes literary festival, 2013, said organisers, would allow notable storytellers, writers, historians, biographers and journalists to come together to share their thoughts, concerns and hopes for the literature of their countries. It is an initiative of the India-Bhutan foundation, produced by Siyahi and presented by Usha.
Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, the festival’s chief patron, in her inaugural address, said it’s that time of the year when Thimphu comes alive with prose, poetry and music. “Mountain echoes is a very special event for me and I’m encouraged to see Bhutan’s participation getting more diverse, as well increasing in number,” the queen mother said. “I hope to see Mountain Echoes encourage more Bhutanese to writing and renew their love for reading.”
The royal patron would be in the opening session today at 10am with festival director Namita Gokhale for ‘readings and reflections’ on Rainbows and Clouds.
Festival director Namita Gokhale said Bhutan today is a nation and culture on a cusp of change, and while the fest always had the government’s support, it now has the prime minister, who has been an active participant of the fest. “Literature is the glue of humanity; it stands beyond time and place, beyond politics and religion; beyond history and geography,” Namita Gokhale said. “We are each other’s stories and literature is the fabric of our shared human identity; come let us dream together.”
By Sonam Pelden