The happiest nation in the world – beautiful Bhutan – is all set to host the 8th edition of the annual Mountain Echoes Literary Festival, from the 25th to 27th of August. The festival celebrates ideas, creativity and culture, and curates a program that is enriching and inspiring.
The festival is an initiative by the India-Bhutan Foundation in collaboration with literary agency Siyahi, and brings together writers, photographers, musicians, poets, pop icons, environmentalists, artists and filmmakers to engage in cultural dialogue, share stories and enjoy a rejuvenating three-day get-away in the mountains.
What happened last year
Last year’s edition focused on climate change, women’s voices and travel writing, with presentations by Amitav Ghosh, artwork, performances by The Jogi Family and Indian Ocean too, and a stellar lineup including festival patron, Her Majesty the Royal Queen Mother of Bhutan, Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk (herself an author). Read our preview of the 7th edition here.
What to look forward to this year
This year, environmental conversation continues to be one of the festival’s key themes alongside spirituality and the evolution of textiles and design traditions. Additionally, Sian Dorji, founder of Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy, points out that “This year’s specially-designed programme will enable audiences to engage in whatever form of storytelling inspires them. Masterpieces on canvas, through music and performances, or literature, there’s something for everyone.”
And indeed, the 2017 programme is incredible and varied, with traditional dance performances by the students of the Royal University of Bhutan, visual storytelling by students from the Wangsel Institute for the hearing impaired, cultural fashion displays, and music performances in store.
Who are the speakers and panelists
This year, you will be able to attend talks and discussions led by author Jerry Pinto, American television host and author Padma Lakshmi, Australian author Markus Zusak, politician Shashi Tharoor, and film director and writer Imtiaz Ali, top photographer and filmmaker of Bhutan Pawo Choyning Dorji, and Chandrika Tamang and Chimmi Choden of the Bhutanese fashion world among a host of others.
As Bhutanese author and festival co-director Tshering Tashi says, “Over the years, the festival has boosted tourism here whilst also giving the people of Bhutan a window to global literature. 2017 will see an increase in the number of Bhutanese delegates at the festival and we are excited to offer the world a glimpse into our varied cultural heritage through the numerous gatherings planned.”
So if you’re interested in taking part in a confluence of ideas, art, music and much more, you know where to head this August.
Written by Swoyam Tuladhar
Featured image source: The Wire