Mountain Echoes Literary Festival
Those lucky enough to be on a Bhutan trek in May of this year who had a keen interest in the myths, legends and folklore of the region would have had a wonderful opportunity to be a part of the inaugural Mountain Echoes Literary Festival. The first of its kind in Bhutan, the birth of this event follows the outstanding success of two previous literary festivals in South East Asia; the Jaipur Literary Festival and the Galle Literary Festival in Sri Lanka.
Over four days, authors, storytellers, poets, performers, musicians, publishers and film makers from the region gathered together to share and celebrate the diverse literary legacy of Bhutan and the Himalayan region. However, the festival focused not only on preserving the traditions and myths of the ancient kingdom, it also covered the more contemporary genres of filmmaking, blogging, travel writing and music.
Held at India House Auditorium in Thimphu, the festival was declared open by its royal patron, the Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck. Her heartfelt speech included a wish that the event, and others like it, would “instill a love for literature and creative writing in the youth of Bhutan.”
The Queen Mother was not the only high-profile visitor over the course of the event. Bhutan’s Prime Minister delivered an eloquent address on the subject of his philosophy on GNH Gross National Happiness) asserting that “Literature helps us grow. We become mindful of others’ sensitivities and that makes writers important people. Literature makes us refined — emotionally, culturally and spiritually.”
Wise words indeed, and this entirely free, open-to-all festival will go a long way to promoting the Prime Minister’s admirable ideals. So, if you want to learn more about the country’s wonderful literary merits, time your Bhutan trek to coincide with next year’s Mountain Echoes Literary Festival.