A celebration of literature

Kuensel,17 May 2010


A celebration of literature

The festival that boasts of its diverse programming

Mountain Echoes 17 May, 2010 – The day for which the book lovers and literary circles of Bhutan awaited has arrived. Bhutan’s first-ever literary festival, ‘Mountain Echoes’ kickstarts today with Her Majesty the Queen Mother, Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck’s, inaugural address. This will be followed by the keynote address and a talk on Gross National Happiness by the prime minister, Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y Thinley.

Five Poems, a poetry reading session by the Bhutanese and Indian poets (Kynpham Sing, CP Surendran, Sarnath Banerjee, Kunzang Choden and Tashi Pem) will conclude the inaugural day’s programme at the India house auditorium.

The sessions for 18-20 May will be held at the Tarayana centre in Thimphu. The programme for the Mountain Echoes literary festival focuses on the unique stories from the mountains, with writers from different tracts of the trans-himalayan belt, sharing their ideas and literary traditions. The festival has been initiated under the aegis of India-Bhutan foundation and is organised by Siyahi, India’s leading literary consultancy. The festival is spearheaded by the Indian ambassador to Bhutan, Pavan Varma. The programme adviser for the festival is Namita Gokhale.

Gulzar, the Oscar-award-winning lyricist and writer, will explore and celebrate the nature of poetry with the prolific writer, Pavan Varma. The festival brings the best-selling author Chetan Bhagat who will be in conversation with Jai Arjun Singh in the session ‘Young Writers, Young Readers’ to explore and discuss the changes in the writing and reading trends in India.

Creative interpretations of the diverse richness found in the mountain stories will be at the heart of the sessions like By the Fireside: Folk-tales and shared stories, These Hills Called Home, In the High Mountains: Encountering the Himalayas and Mapping the Himalayas with speakers like Bulbul Sharma, Dorji Penjore, Omair Ahmad, Mitali Saran, Sanjoy Hazarika, Ravi Singh and Shekhar Pathak.

Dasho Karma Ura and Tsugla lopen rinpoche Samten Dorji along with Choki Tshomo will be talking on issues related to Bhutanese history, culture, and literature in Bhutan: The Inner Self and Tales of the Land. Internationally acclaimed writer, Patrick French will share his experiences and speak about the quest, which led him from the Himalayas to Kashmir and into Tibet in the session The Quest for Younghusband. In Winds of Change Blow, Dasho Kinley Dorji examines the rapid changes, which the Bhutanese society is undergoing.

The various myths and legends connected to archery, the national game of Bhutan will come alive as Kynpham Sing will share the various myths, legends and oral traditions woven around archery, accompanied by Jigme Drukpa, who will perform a song on archery during the session – Words as Arrows.

The festival boasts of its diverse programming. Writers like Pavan Varma and Namita Gokhale will make us Return to Roots as they discuss the issues related to culture and identity. Leila Seth will be in conversation with Namita Bhandare about her autobiography On Balance, which is a summing up of a life lived well. Kunzang Choden and Urvashi Butalia will be focusing on issues connected to women in Of Women, By Women.

The Mammal and the Dandelion will have Sampurna Chattarji’s reading of her prose and poetry. Channeling Creativity is one of the aims behind the festival. Sonam Kinga will be sharing his vast knowledge on Vernacular Katsoms: Alphabetic poetry. Indian and Bhutanese filmmakers like Shashank Ghosh, Tshering Penjore and Tshering Wangyel will join the literary masters like Sunil Sethi and Karma Tenzin ‘Yongba’ to talk on Frames and Stories and Films and Reality.

In Ancient Epic, Modern Times, Namita Gokhale and Pavan Varma, along with Sadanand Dhume, will discuss the relevance of The Mahabharata in modern times. The festival will go online as the famous bloggers Jai Arjun Singh, Namita Bhandare and Siok Sian Dorji share their experiences on blogging. The mountains of Bhutan will echo the tunes of the famous rock band Soulmate as they perform at the clock tower on May 19.

The festival celebrates the writings from the Himalayan region during the twenty insightful sessions and splendid performances.