Lit fest: The sixth edition of the literary festival, Mountain Echoes, concluded on Saturday with Her Majesty Gyalyum Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck speaking about her book, Dochula: A Spiritual Abode, which was launched at the festival, and His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo, to whom this year’s festival was dedicated.

In the festival’s last session, moderated by the historian, Patrick French, Her Majesty explained that the 108 stupas were constructed at Dochula to safeguard His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo and his men during the 2003 operations to remove militants encamped in Bhutan.

“It was a very difficult time for the whole country, for the family personally,” Her Majesty said. “It was, in a way, to bribe the goodness spirits to safeguard our King, so that he would return to us victorious, and of course, all the men he was leading.”

Following His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo’s return, Her Majesty built the Druk Wangyal Lhakhang.

Patrick French asked Her Majesty if personal anxiety had played a role. “Absolutely,” Her Majesty said. “Because you see, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck is a very extraordinary person,” Her Majesty added. “When he’s leading his men to battle he’s not the kind of person that will go behind, he’s the first one to lead so knowing that and the dangers that was so evident and so palpable at that time, I had to do something.”

Patrick French then asked Her Majesty if the creations at Dochula are connected to His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo’s vision of GNH. “Yes and no,” Her Majesty said. “First of all, His Majesty does not like any monuments to be built in his honour, he doesn’t like any celebrations in his honour and that’s the nature of His Majesty,” Her Majesty said. “He does not like even to be thanked for what he has done.”

Her Majesty explained this is because His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo considered it a part of his job and duty.

However, Her Majesty said that as personal happiness is enhanced when at Dochula, it is connected to GNH. Her Majesty also pointed out that a park, that will be called the 60th Anniversary Park, dedicated to the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, is currently under construction at Dochula. The park will provide a place for meditation and teachings to be conducted.

Her Majesty also added that a butter lamp that will compose of 11kgs of gold with a base of over 50kgs of silver is being hand crafted under the direction of academic Dasho Karma Ura. The butter lamp, dedicated to the Fourth Druk Gyalpo will be always lit and be called the Eternal Flame of Gratitude.

Earlier in the day, best selling author, Chetan Bhagat, shared some of his tips with a large audience, almost half of them standing as there were not enough chairs. Responding to a young writer, the author said he had no secret to success. “It’s just that I kept trying.”

The author also said it is important to be a well-read person. He said that reading changes personalities and allows you to imagine. “You never say he’s a well TV watched person,” he said to laughter. He pointed out that such literary festivals were important to provide books with a platform.

A particularly interesting development to this year’s Mountain Echoes was the high level of participation by children, with some of the speakers being bombarded by questions, Chetan Bhagat being one of them.

Chetan Bhagat noticed this too and remarked that if an author had come along when he was as young as the students present, he would not have had the guts to ask a question.

A large crowd also attended the session involving both the mathematician Marcus Du Sautoy and science children’s writer, Lucy Hawking.

A Bhutanese math teacher of 12 years pointed out to Marcus Du Sautoy that most of his students have a “defeated” mentality of the subject and asked how to make it interesting.

The mathematician said that the problem with maths today is that it is taught in a silo mentality and not connected to other subjects like music. He said there is also a need for more stories behind math lessons so that it is brought to life.

In response to a young girl’s question on what the two would say in response to existing stereotypes that girls should not be in the math field, both Marcus Du Sautoy and Lucy Hawking pointed out that there are many women, both historical and in the present, that have been very successful scientists and mathematicians. Both said they are working on bringing these women more publicity so that they can serve as role models to young girls.

One of the examples of a role model provided was an American woman scientist, currently in her 20s, and designing the rocket that will take human beings to Mars.

At the end of the festival, Her Majesty Gyalyum Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck described this year’s Mountain Echoes as “spectacular” and that Her Majesty had learned more in this festival than in previous editions.

Her Majesty, who is the festival’s chief patron, said: “We’re part of a family, a family of people who love books and people who make those books; so keep writing, keep reading and be happy and safe wherever you are.”

The three-day festival was sponsored and supported by Reliance and the government of Rajasthan. The festival is an initiative of the India-Bhutan Foundation in association with Siyahi.

Gyalsten K Dorji