Rich with words and ideas, centered on the theme Many Lives, Many Stories, the 10th edition of Mountain Echoes, the festival of literature, art and culture seeks to explore the depth of human experiences through stories from distinguished speakers from Bhutan, India, and around the world.
Speakers will explore contemporary dialogues ranging from ecology to travel stories that resonate deeply with individuals, stories on spirituality from the perspective of spiritual education, and sessions illustrating the art of cinematic storytelling; this year’s programming will showcase engaging tales through narratives on food, fashion, wellness and business.
“I am very happy to see the Mountain Echoes Literature Festival growing in popularity every year. It has been bringing writers from India and Bhutan together along with international participants also in the beautiful and peaceful surroundings of the mountains of Bhutan. The festival has promoted India-Bhutan friendship through intellectual and cultural interaction, adding an important dimension to the close and exemplary relations between our two countries,” Ambassador Major General V Namgyel said.
As a part of the ecology capsule powered by WWF Bhutan, in association with Bhutan Trust Fund and Royal Society for Protection of Nature, there will be conversations on the Ruddy Shelduck, where Sherub, researcher at Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment and Dechen Dorji, representative for the World Wildlife Fund program in Bhutan follow its winter visitor ruddy shelduck’s journey through some of the most breathtaking regions in the world.
Pema Choephyel and Sangay will talk about Bhutan’s national animal Takin which is believed to have sprung to life when Drukpa Kunley fixed the head of a goat on the body of a cow. The panelists will discuss how technology and the reverence of the Bhutanese for the takin have shaped the country’s conservation efforts.
Indra Prasad Acharja and Jigme Tshering will discuss water habitats and ways to minimize the adverse impact on vulnerable species like white-bellied heron and black-necked crane and the environment, focusing on conservation, political action and education.
Stories of entrepreneurship will take centre stage through successful entrepreneurs like Kinley Wangchuk (Ganchu), Namgyel Dorji and Pema Choden Tenzin, who will discuss the challenges and joys of striking your own path and building businesses from the ground up.
Toby Walsh, the rock star of Australia’s digital revolution, will break down the fear against AI, explaining the actual advances it has made, and discussing how education and regulation will be necessary for humans to keep up with evolving technologies.
Sessions will focus on larger conversations like spirituality by sharing diverse points of view from prominent speakers. Nandini Majumdar, Venerable Kabir Saxena and Sonam Wangmo Jhalani will discuss how enlightenment may not lie at the end of a pilgrimage, but the journey itself may give you a glimpse of a richer, more fulfilling world.
Vanessa R Sasson a professor of religious studies in the Liberal Arts Department of Marianopolis College will discuss with Tashi Zangmo, Bhutanese activist, her novel in which she imagines and retells the story of the Buddha from Yashodhara’s perspective, who was married to him.
Literature, culture and cinema have always gone hand in hand and can be viewed as a mirror of the society. Looking at cinema through the contemporary phenomenon as it exists today, Richa Chadha and Abhishek Chaubey will discuss how content is being streamed and consumed in the digital era. In another session, panelists will discuss making films in an age of rapid technological changes.
This year’s theme Many Lives, Many Stories lends to the dialogue of storytelling and its many forms. From storytelling in history, the definitions of pre-history, proto-history, history and our prejudice for the written word; to workshops by Jason Quinn on writing for a graphic novel, Aamir Wani on storytelling through visuals and Neelesh Misra on the thought process of creating a story; the festival will emphasize the power of storytelling through different mediums.
Sessions will also look at modern forms of visual storytelling and the lives of contemporary storytellers. Deki Wangmo, Bhutan’s Supermodel, Karma Lhari Wangchuk (@bhutanstreetfashion), internationally recognized first fashion blogger from Bhutan and Ugen Choden, first Program Director of the Bhutan Foundation will talk about how the Bhutan fashion industry while being open to the ideas from the outside world has also retained its unique identity.
Photographer-filmmaker Aamir Wani, curator Jono Lineen and travel writer Shivya Nath will talk about viewing the world through their trusty cameras that never let them down. All avid travellers, they talk about how images are a universal way of telling stories and communicating with people, and about sharing their stories through Instagram.
Speaking about this year’s edition, Festival Co-Director Pramod KG said, “The 10th edition of Mountain Echoes is a testament to the staying power of independent platforms that privilege the written word, the spoken thought and the many tongues that articulate our stories.”