Tradition: To revive the tradition of oral storytelling and to inculcate a passion of reading, writing and listening to stories, around 150 students from four dzongkhags attended the storytelling festival ‘Dangphu Dingphu’ held at the Department of Youth and Sports (DYS) hall on October 22.

Fifteen schools comprising lower, middle, and higher secondary schools from Haa, Paro, Punakha and Thimphu attended the festival.

From each school, 10 students were selected to narrate and retell some of the old and forgotten folktales and stories. Some were originally written while a few borrowed from local writers.

Local storytellers were also invited who narrated stories in Dzongkha, Sharchopkha and Lhotsamkha. Lopen Gangkar Wangdi narrated a story in Sharchopkha about tha damtsi while Ap Dorji, who came all the way from Punakha, narrated a story about a monkey and a bird.

Organiser of the festival, Pema Gyaltshen, a teacher, said the festival’s objective was to bring people that are keen lovers of folk stories, both young and old, and revive the forgotten art of storytelling.

“We wanted to give a platform and a voice to our local authors and upcoming writers as well. Through this festival, we hope to create a collaboration of younger and older generations that appreciate the art of storytelling,” Pema Gyaltshen, said.

The organisers are now targeting to make it a nationwide event where schools from all the dzongkhags can participate and share their stories.

“We are very happy for the positive response we received during the event where past and present were brought together and students heard many new and old stories,” Pema Gyaltshen said. “The students had many things to say and expressed themselves so well. It shows how such platforms are important for students to participate and have a learning experience.”

A student from Rinchen Higher Secondary School, Sonam, said she’s happy that such festivals are held in schools. “I hope the festival continues and many young people at my age appreciate the dying art of indigenous storytelling.”

This is the first such event to be organised. The two organisers held the event out of their own interest, which drew a positive response from the students and their schools. The organisers thanked the education ministry and DYS for their support.

Thinley Zangmo