Mountain Echoes 2013: Things to know about the unique literature festival

Zee Media Bureau

Bhutan: The Mountain Echoes Literary Festival, 2013 is a recognition of culture, traditions, art and everything in between; it is in the truest sense a celebration of the rich and giving past, an affirmation of the warmth of the present and a powerful beacon to the future. It is about getting together and celebrating everything that brings one pleasure - books, music, art, photos, drama, movies, sports etc.

The Chief Royal Patron of the festival is Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck.

An initiative by the India – Bhutan foundation, Mountain Echoes is produced by Siyahi and presented by USHA. Namita Gokhale and Pramod Kumar KG are the festival directors.

The sessions will be spread between Taj Tashi, Thimphu and Tarayana Center, Thimphu who are the hospitality and venue partners of the festival.

The presenting sponsors of the festival, Usha, known for their products in virtually every Indian household, hope to extend the reach of Usha’s Silai (Sewing) Schools Programme into the countless under-served rural communities, particularly those that suffer from a lack of electric power. This initiative, operated in conjunction with local NGO’s, will provide the entrepreneurial village woman with a sewing machine as well as training in sewing, simple mechanics for repair and the knowledge to transfer sewing skills to the future generations. The aim is for women to generate independent incomes and sustain their families and communities. Usha intends that the schools will give these communities, and the women who keep them alive, their fair share in the region’s future. Presently, over 2500 schools are in operation across all the 28 states of India and the number is growing at a thousand schools per year.

The festival takes off with Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck and Namita Gokhale, as they look back on her life as the Queen Mother of this mystic Himalayan nation. We have Dasho Kinley Dorji, Pavan K. Varma, Siok Sian Dorji, Kunga Tenzin Dorji, Ratnottama Sengupta, Bachi Karkaria with Malvika Singh blurring the lines between what is known, what is believed and what is said. Moving forth from the time-wrap of patriarchy and the taboo surrounding the word “Feminism” will be Lily Wangchuk, Aparna Sen, Rahul Bose and Namita Bhandare. Lyonpo Paljor Dorji and Dr. Lam Dorji will get down to the nitty gritty of environmental sustainability with Manju Wakhley. Ani Choying will talk about music that is inspired by and inspires emancipation, Amish Tripathi and Meru Gokhale will discuss the writing of the Shiva Trilogy and Amruta Patil presents Adi Parva and its re-contextualization in contemporary times. Reading selected parts of their works will be Kezang Uden Penjor, Maria Rosa ‘Bing’ N. Carrion, Chorten Tshering and Jerry Pinto. Tarun Tejpal will talk about his work, ideas and the `alchemy` that may or may not gild things as we know them now.

Kesang Choden T. Wangchuk and Tshering Tashi will contemplate on the vibrant mural tradition in Bhutan and Christoph Schuler plans to do a delightful presentation of whiteboard animation with Andrea Caprez. Barkha Dutt will speak candidly about her experience as one of leading TV Journalist and anchor with Namgay Zam. Jane De Suza and Karma Tenzin ‘Yongba’ will bring forward the making of their detective stories with Sathya Saran. Omair Ahmad, Lyonpo Om Pradhan and Pavan K. Varma explore the New Bhutan, Sudha Shah and Pramod Kumar KG chronicle history, defining the roots of a nation. Kunzang Choden and Dolma Roder will revisit the Ogyen Choling manor. Mahesh Dattani will speak about his plays with Kalyan Ray. Outlining the history of the nation-state of Bhutan will be Dr. Karma Phuntsho. Dr. Yoshiro Imaeda, the chronicler of the consolidation of Bhutan talks about his work. Saad Bin Jung will speak about his expeditions and experiences. Kelly Dorji and Dorji Dhradhul read excerpts from their books. Ulap Leki takes on the critical nature of the lighter side of things.

For those interested in the fields of art, photography and history: Bhutan: An Eye to History is a photographic exhibition by His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck showcasing the evolution of Photography in Bhutan; and Kalpana: Masterpieces of Figurative Indian Contemporary Paintings will be showcased at the Nehru Wangchuck Center. Tarayana Center, Thimphu will host an Art Exhibition: VAST Summer Show 2013.

Also at the Nehru Wangchuck Centre, films from various genres will be screened with the support of the Public Diplomacy Division. We have A la Cart!, Harmony Fest, The Joyful Rhythms of a Kashmiri Wedding, Lords of the Arctic, Mrinalini Sarabhai, Hello India, Six Yards of Grace, Silent Screams and The Great Adventure.

Mahesh Dattani, playwright, director, actor and winner of the Sahitya Academy Award, will conduct the Theatre Workshop open to all those who are interested. Jerry Pinto, journalist, writer and winner of the The Hindu Lit For Life Prize for Fiction in 2013 will lead the Creative Writing Workshop to help all the writers caught in limbo to bring out their latent abilities. The workshops are a step in helping direct the creativity of the youth and to inculcate the atmosphere for a free exchange of knowledge which helps all those involved, grow.

Bandish is an Indian band popular for its Rock, Pop, Indi-Pop, Sufi and Bollywood music. Ace drummer Chris Powell (Founder Member Nirvana, Ex-Euphoria) formed the band comprising Adil Manuel and Desmond Powell (founder Member Nirvana and True Colours) on guitar, Sanam on vocals, Ulrich Gomes on keyboards, Abhishek on bass and Rohit Kumar on Indian percussions. They are all very excited to be a part of the festival for the first time.


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