Mountain Echoes is home again. It is the 7th edition of the festival that celebrates the rich cultures and traditions of the region. Great minds and brilliant heads have come to share their experiences. What is so beautiful about this festival is that we can tell and listen to stories myriad.
In the digital age we live in, this is all the more important; we need to bring down the “narrow domestic walls” that increasingly alienate us from the world beyond. For a small society like ours, especially, literary festivals like Mountain Echoes help us pause and look back on our very roots and bones. We are a society that is changing rapidly; we are losing touch with our own hearts, so to speak. That’s why Mountain Echoes is important.
This edition of Mountain Echoes is special because we are talking beyond music, literature and personal experiences. We are bringing into focus issues that the whole of the humanity is facing today – climate change. It is not that the world cannot hear the voices of the denizens anymore; if climate change should be the bedrock of all development policies and governance systems, we need to throw out convincing tales of new reality.
As Indian author Amitav Ghosh put it, perhaps we need to find ways to tell difficult stories differently so that the wider world will be compelled to listen. It is a small platform, but Mountain Echoes dares to look beyond. That’s why this festival is more than just important. If we couldn’t do much else than just vacationing for a good few days, sort of, the whole purpose of drawing perspectives and seeking answers to the problems our societies are increasingly confronting today will be defeated.
This edition of the Mountain Echoes is special also because the number of Bhutanese participants has increased by much. This is a good sign. Already the festival has encouraged many Bhutanese to write about issues personal and global, issue small and big. Maturity will come by the by. What is important is that we set a standard so that there are fruitful discussions about issues that concern writers and audiences, and world at large.
Great Irish playwright Oscar Wilde pined that literature is increasingly not read in the world today, while unreadable castoffs continue to be manufactured with amazing alacrity. Without literature, however, we wouldn’t even know our place in the society because literature has that power to give us all our past, present and future.
We hope that Mountain Echoes will grow to give us our past, present and future.