Bhutan Lit Fest to take in 400 years of history

New Delhi, June 27 (IANS) Alongside exploring contemporary issues facing the country today, “Mountain Echoes”, the seventh edition of Bhutan’s literary festival, will also focus on the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, the first ruler to unite it as a single nation.

Spanning the country’s full history at fest will be a conversation between Kuenga Wangmo, Neyphug Trulku and Dasho Sangay Khandu, who will discuss the journey of undoubtedly one of the greatest figures in Bhutan’s history, festival co-director Namita Gokhale said in a statement.

“An initiative of the India-Bhutan Foundation in association with Siyahi, Mountain Echoes, to be held from August 26 to August 28 is a confluence of art, music, literature and new media of both countries, serving as the ideal platform for debate, discussion, and cultural exchange,” Gokhale said.

The event will be held in conjunction with the Tsechues Buddhist religious festival.

“What mask dancers are to the Tsechues, authors are to the Mountain Echoes,” said Tshering Tashi, the festival co-director from Bhutan.

“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,” he added.

“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,” Gokhale said.

With 60 percent of its land covered in forests, Bhutan is considered to be 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 carbon negative.

The literary festival will open with a conversation on “Climate Change and its Impact”, presented by Indian author Amitav Ghosh and introduced by Indian ambassador Jaideep Sarkar.

This year the festival will announce the inaugural edition of “Bonfire Tales” : A cultural journey that travels via motorcycle to the Phobjikha valley in the black mountains of Bhutan and then onto the warm climes of Punakha.

Participants will be led by the Bhutanese actor Kelly Dorji, on a tour specifically designed to provide an authentic experience of Bhutanese culture, discovering religious sites, old monasteries and their art, while sampling delicious local cuisine throughout the journey.



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