Mountain Echoes 2016: Thunder roared in the sky, a sign befitting to the most-awaited literary festival of the year, the seventh edition of Mountain Echoes, which began in the capital yesterday.

Chief Royal Patron of Mountain Echoes, Her Majesty the Queen Mother Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck and the festival directors from Bhutan and India inaugurated the festival.

“Mountain Echoes is an event that I personally look forward to meeting accomplished individuals from the literary world and also the cultural world. Every year, I get to know many authors, poets and artists who have inspired and shared part of your lives with us,” said Her Majesty the Queen Mother Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck.

“I am honoured to be both patron and an active participant in the seventh edition of the Mountain Echoes Literary Festival this August,” Her Majesty the Queen Mother said, adding that to discuss and debate the key issues facing Bhutan today, education, climate change, rural-urban migration, and to consider our history through the medium of literature, art and culture is a wonderful prospect.

“The festival has been a great catalyst for the appreciation of literature in Bhutan,” Her Majesty the Queen Mother Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck said.

Her Majesty the Queen Mother thanked the sponsors of the event and wished everyone a memorable experience with the hope that the participants will go back with happy memories of their time in the country.

Indian Ambassador to Bhutan, Jaideep Sarkar, said most of the people know Bhutan as a country that has shown new pathways of sustainable living, of how society should progress rather than just prosper, of how government should govern and how people should live in harmony not only with nature but also with tradition. “Less known are the deep and mysterious secrets of Bhutan’s religious artistic and literary traditions. Mountain Echoes offers a window to this unique cultural heritage but also a chance to observe Bhutanese writers, poets, scholars converse with the rest of the world.”

Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Vasundhara Raje, who is in the country for the first time, said it’s a real pleasure for the next three days to listen to people who are going to be taking audiences away from what is already known.

“It’s wonderful to see Bhutanese literature being brought to the fore. As it is in Bhutan and also in India, we are known for our tradition of conserving and perpetuating ancient texts. All of us will enjoy the event immensely and this wonderful interlude is something we will go back with happy memories,” Vasundhara Raje said.

A festival director, Namita Gokhale, said that participants look forward to the event with eager anticipation.

Pramod Kumar KG, also a festival director, said Mountain Echoes in its seventh iteration brings back an acute focus on issues relating to the environment and climate change, whilst widening its ambit to include the visual arts and new media, subjects at the forefront of youth interests that are redefining our cultural experiences and fostering new dialogues.

The sessions will begin today at the Royal University of Bhutan’s auditorium with talks about climate change, Guru Rinpoche, reading and discussion on poetry of an Indian writer Lal Ded.

The event begins at 9:40am and will run until 6:45pm.

Thinley Zangmo