Let’s read

A young schoolgirl is ambling about the only bookstall outside Vice Chancellor’s office at Royal University of Bhutan in Motithang, Thimphu. She hasn’t found a book that she could read. Shy and nervous, she looks around for a while, and then, she is gone.

As the sixth edition of Mountain Echoes literary festival ends today, we have some thanking to do ourselves for making it a successful event. The importance and relevance of such an event cannot be overstated.

Art and literature help us discover extraordinary in the ordinary; they alleviate us to the sublime and the beautiful and show us the possibilities of universes beyond self and small. They give us love and hope; they teach us to give what we receive. Art and literature help us become more human; they make us more humane.

We gave Mountain Echoes a very special significance this year. As the nation celebrates the 60th birth anniversary of His Majesty Drugyal Zhipa Jigme Singye Wangchuck, 2015 is also being observed as the National Reading Year. That’s why the festival this year assumed added significance.

This year’s Mountain Echoes also saw increase in the number of audience and visitors. This indicates that our efforts to foster reading habit in our society have not been vain attempts. Children in schools have read millions of books this year. But for this habit and value to live and not die, festivals like Mountain Echoes become all the more important.

While some young audience in the hall looked visibly lost and wearied, the sessions in general were interesting, informative, and engaging. The event also saw many new Bhutanese writers rubbing shoulders with already well-established authors from abroad.

All these augur well for Bhutan and the Bhutanese, because it is not about a small event or dream that we are talking today. We are shaping a bigger, much vaster dream, a national dream, that we must share and build together until we have made this our society a knowledge-based society, an enlightened society, a reading and writing society.

All these will be possible only if we make covenant with ourselves and pledge to begin reading this day on and to write if we haven’t been writing. Mountain Echoes gives us another boost to keep reading. Let’s read.

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