The eighth edition of the Mountain Echoes literary festival began in Thimphu yesterday following an inaugural at the India House Estate on August 24 in Thimphu.

Her Majesty the Gyalyum, Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck inaugurated the festival that was attended by Her Royal Highness Sonam Dechan Wangchuck, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, Indian Ambassador to Bhutan Jaideep Sarkar and senior government officials.

Festival director of Mountain Echoes, Namita Gokhale, said, literary festivals such as Mountain Echoes provides a platform for the literary community to emerge, for young writers to be inspired and for the older writers to have reversed mentoring from younger people.

Ambassador Jaideep Sarkar said as Bhutan opened its economy and society to the world, it realised that there is much to learn from the world. “The world is also realising that there is much to learn from Bhutan about how to manage a nation and a society through the principles of harmony, balance and co-existence.”

Her Majesty the Gyalyum, Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck said there has been a marked interest of book clubs and Bhutanese publications of higher quality. “Bhutanese authors have out-numbered participants from outside for the past three years, I am proud to say that Mountain Echoes contributed to this wonderful development.”

Festival director Tshering Tashi said that Mountain Echoes is one of the key initiatives of the Indo Bhutan Foundation and that it stands testimony to the strong friendship the two countries enjoy.

Contrary to popular notions, Bhutan is not short of good writers or lacking in good books. “Scholarship in Bhutan is young but growing. For example, we have 36 scholars who have produced thesis for their doctoral degrees on a range of interesting subjects.”

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay together with a class 10 student from Motithang Higher Secondary School recited a poem about youth, written and directed by Charmi Chheda.

The inauguration event also saw students from Sersang Primary School in Thimphu performing marchang and zhhungdra.

The literary festival, which ends tomorrow include the launch of six books of which four are from Bhutanese authors.

Karma Cheki