Mountain Echoes explores global issues in the light of national history for 2016 edition
Bhutan will celebrate the seventh edition of Mountain Echoes literary festival on 26 – 28 August. This diverse three-day festival is uniquely set against the backdrop of the verdant Himalayas, in Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. An initiative of the India-Bhutan Foundation in association with Siyahi, Mountain Echoes is a confluence of art, music, literature and new media of both countries, serving as the ideal platform for debate, discussion, and cultural exchange. Its idyllic location and programme of events makes it one of the most unique literary festivals and a leading event in the international literary calendar.
Set within a country renowned for its sustainable democracy and proactive stance on ecology, Mountain Echoes will open with a conversation on ‘climate change and its impact’ presented by author Amitav Ghosh and introduced by His Excellency Ambassador Jaideep Sarkar (present Ambassador of India to the Royal Government of Bhutan).
With sixty percent of its land covered in forestry, Bhutan is a veritable paradise, hailed as one of the greenest countries on the planet. According to the ECIU (Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit) Bhutan’s forests absorb three times more CO2 emissions than its society creates, making it not only carbon neutral, but carbon negative. In April 2016, tens of thousands of Bhutanese marked the birth of Prince Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck by planting 108,000 tree saplings, which in Buddhist culture symbolizes long life, health, beauty and compassion. Earlier that month Bhutan’s Prime Minister, His Excellency Tshering Tobgay, shared his country’s pledge to remain carbon neutral and mission to put happiness before economic growth during a TED Talk.
As well as exploring contemporary issues facing Bhutan today, the festival will span the country’s full history, with a conversation on the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in Bhutan, the first ruler to unite Bhutan as a single nation. Kuenga Wangmo, Neyphug Trulku and Dasho Sangay Khandu will discuss his journey as undoubtedly one of the greatest figures in the history of Bhutan.
Visitors to Mountain Echoes 2016 can also attend a variety of collateral events, such as an exhibition of artworks by the Jogi family; selections from Jogi Art by Tulika Kedia at the Royal University of Bhutan and an exhibition of photographs by Sudhir Kasliwal, curated by Pramod Kumar KG, that captures a vibrant, living Rajasthan. Good to Great Gasa, a photography exhibition by Dorji Dhradhul will also provide viewers with a glimpse into the history, culture, and natural splendour of Bhutan’s Gasa region. Some of the proceeds of the exhibition will go to the Good to Great Gasa Fund. Workshops include Elements of a Story: Creative Writing Workshop by Sonam Wangmo Jhalani, Brand Building and Advertising by Piyush Pandey and Sculpting the Spirit: Yoga Workshop by Ira Trivedi, plus a special musical performance by Indian fusion rock band, Indian Ocean.
This year the festival also announces the inaugural edition of ‘Bonfire Tales’: A cultural journey that travels via motorcycle to the Phobjikha valley in the impressive Black Mountains of Bhutan and then onto the warm climes of Punakha. Participants will be led by actor Kelly Dorji, on a tour specifically designed to provide an authentic experience of Bhutanese culture, discovering sacred religious sites, and centuries-old monasteries and their art, while sampling delicious local cuisine throughout the journey. Detailed itineraries and costs are available on request. Availability is limited and applications for the tour are now open. To apply, please contact: email@example.com.
Namita Gokhale, Festival Director Mountain Echoes says, “We are all looking forward with eager anticipation to the seventh edition of this exquisite festival. High altitude thinking in the unique cultural climate and rarefied environment of the ancient kingdom of Bhutan, which is also the world’s youngest democracy.”
Tshering Tashi, Festival Director Mountain Echoes says, “What mask dancers are to the Tsechues, authors are to the Mountain Echoes Tsechue.”
Her Majesty the Royal Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck is the Chief Royal Patron of Mountain Echoes. Namita Gokhale, Pramod Kumar KG, Siok Sian Dorji and Tshering Tashi are the Festival Directors. Kunzang Choden, Malvika Singh, Namgay Zam, Namita Bhandare, Pavan K Varma and Sonam Jatso are the Festival Advisors. Jaypee Group are the title sponsors of Mountain Echoes 2016, powered by Department of Tourism, Government of Rajasthan.