On the 24th August 2017 in Thimphu, the eighth edition of Mountain Echoes Literary Festival was formally inaugurated today by Her Majesty the Royal Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, the royal patron of the festival, with the lighting of the lamp. Joining her in the lamp lighting were His Excellency Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay, His Excellency Ambassador Jaideep Sarkar and Festival Co-Directors Namita Gokhale and Pramod Kumar KG.
The 2017 edition of the festival will embrace and explore globally relevant issues such as Environmental conservation, Natural history, Spirituality & Buddhism, and the global evolution of textiles and design traditions, amongst others, thereby bringing together a range of expertise and perspectives over the next three days until the 26th August. The welcome note by Mita Kapur, Festival Producer and CEO, Siyahi, was followed by the opening address by Her Majesty the Royal Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck.
The highlight of the evening was a performance by His Excellency Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay who recited a poem written by Charmi Chheda, along with a bright young 16-year-old student from Bhutan High School Dorji Gyeltsen. This was followed by traditional marchang and zhungdra performances by students of Sersang School.
The 2017 edition of the Festival will see 75 writers from across the world come together for debates, discussions and exchange of ideas. This includes 53 writers from Bhutan, 21 from India and 11 from other countries, including United States of America, Australia, United Kingdom, Czechoslovakia, Bangladesh and Nepal.
Presented by the Jaypee Group and powered by the Department of Tourism, Government of Rajasthan, the Mountain Echoes Literary Festival is an initiative of the India-Bhutan Foundation and India’s leading literary consultancy, Siyahi. Headline speakers at this year’s edition include Australian author Markus Zusak, Francesca Beard, a London-based writer and performance poet; beloved children’s author Ruskin Bond; American television host and author Padma Lakshmi andIndian author AshwinSanghi. The highlights from the Bhutanese contingent include His Eminence Kyabje Khedrup Rinpoche Ugyen Tenzin Thinley Lhendup, ace photographer and filmmaker Pawo Choyning Dorji, Khenpo Sonam Bumdhen of theCentral Monastic Body, and front-runners of the Bhutanese fashion world, Chimmi Choden and Chandrika Tamang.
Other well-known names set to attend the 2017 edition include celebrated Bhutanese poet Ashi Sonam Choden Dorji; art restorer and author of books such as The Lotus Light Palace of Guru Rinpoche: Visions of the Buddhist Paradise in the Sacred Kingdom of Bhutan, Ashi Kesang Choden T; politician and Commonwealth Writers’ Prize winner Dr. Shashi Tharoor; senior ecologist with the Royal Society for Protection of Nature and author of Wild Lilies and Poppies of Bhutan, Wild Rhododendrons of Bhutan and Threatened Birds in Bhutan Rebecca Pradhan; author and environmentalist Pradip Krishen; biochemist and author Pranay Lal; Phuntsho Namgyel, the first director of Bhutan’s Election Commission and author of the acclaimed book Forest for Gross National Happiness; Palden Tshering, former journalist & founder of Bhutan’s first literacy consultancy; K Anis Ahmed, co-founder of the literary journal Bengal Lights and author of the best-selling novels The World in My Hands and Good Night, Mr. Kissinger; acclaimed Indian film director and writer Imtiaz Ali; contemporary fiction writer Amrita Tripathi and eminent journalist and Emmy-nominated author Barkha Dutt.
The three-day festival will continue till August 27, with engaging and insightful discussions being held across six locations in the city.