Choki Wangmo

If you are bored at home without any meaningful engagements during this national lockdown, social media movement hash tagged lock down reads could be for you.

Started by Drukyul’s Literature festival formerly known as the Mountain Echoes, the movement is expected to encourage reading while in lockdown through social engagements. It is a solidarity move to create a reading community and keep everyone engaged, inspired, and connected to each other through books during uncertain times as Covid-19.

A participant of the movement can take a minute long video on the current reads or take a picture with the book and write a review of about 200 words. Although the movement was started on the day of the nationwide lockdown, it has been only few days since it has gained momentum.

As of yesterday, 37, 000 people have participated in the movement. “In these uncertain times, social media is filled with disturbing news. This campaign is creating an enabling and positive environment to encourage reading in Bhutan. It will be a success even if one reader becomes a lifelong reader because of this campaign,” a member of the initiative said.

The festival hopes to create a vibrant reading community among youth and continue with the same momentum even after the lockdown is lifted. Most participants are young.

The founder of Youth Advocacy Network, Tshedrup Dorji, is a participant of the movement. He said that the social media campaign had inspired and helped him read and re-read old books during the lockdown.

He said young readers in the country faced several challenges such as access to libraries and good books and lack of motivation and support from family members. “I think our elders and parents must inspire our children to read books at home and develop a reading culture.”

A constant reader himself, he said reading shaped his mind to be more effective and a forward thinker.

During lockdown, besides reading, he is engaged with youth-led initiatives such as conducting literally competitions among young people across Bhutan.

Another participant, Kezang Dechen Choden, said that the initiative would help encourage youth like her to read more and engage others who were overwhelmed during such difficult times. Through reviews shared and recommended by others, she plans to be exposed to different types of books, which would inspire her to read more. She had read 10 books so far.

The official website and logo of the Drukyul’s Literature Festival: Bhutan Echoes was launched on June 10 this year coinciding with the 65th birth anniversary of Her Majesty Gyalyum Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, the chief royal patron of the festival.

One of the main missions of Bhutan Echoes is to encourage reading, especially among the youth.  This is in line with the national vision of His Majesty The King for a well-read Bhutan.

The social media campaign is supported by the Tourism Council of Bhutan.