A festival that puts its speakers and guests in the same space as its audiences, Mountain Echoes is a melting pot of thoughts and ideas, celebrating a wide range of artistic mediums- literature, visual arts, photography, theatre, film, music, and dance. The festival is an initiative of the India-Bhutan Foundation and enjoys the patronage of Her Majesty the Royal Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck. Festival directors include known literary names such as Namita Gokhale, Pramod Kumar KG, Tshering Tashi and Kelly Dorji.
‘As Mountain Echoes returns for its tenth edition my thoughts return to all these years of joy, inspiration and collaborative learning with readers and writers from Bhutan, India, and around the world. It has been a transformative process to have been associated with Mountain Echoes from the very start, and to share perspectives on writing, poetry, music and life learning from across the Himalayas and beyond,’ said founder and co-director of Mountain Echoes, and celebrated author Namita Gokhale.
In the tenth edition, Mountain Echoes is setting out to showcase many lives and the many stories they hold, and through such stories, the three-day festival will explore and celebrate the many elements of personal, professional, mental and spiritual success. They can be stories of a traveller, a spiritual leader, tales of a celebrated river, a civilization, a venerated mountain; each one of them with elements that make this pursuit meaningful.
Speaking about this year’s theme, Festival Co-Director Kelly Dorji (actor, artist and travel facilitator) said, ‘As Mountain Echoes turns 10, this year’s edition is very special as our theme encompasses ‘many lives’ and extend to more mediums and cultural activities. I am especially excited to see so many Bhutanese contribute their talents to this year’s festival. Her Majesty Gyalyum DorjiWangmo Wangchuck has steered this wonderful concept to reach farther and farther into mystical Bhutan and this year I especially look forward to filmmaking and theatre getting more recognition and gaining momentum amongst the people here.’
Presented by the Jaypee Group, the three-day festival is an initiative of the India-Bhutan Foundation, produced by Siyahi, a Jaipur-based literary agency headed by Mita Kapur, and is known for bringing together literary stalwarts from across the world in the lap of the Himalayas.
In terms of programming, every year, the festival makes a concerted effort to provide a platform for cultural and social exchange and for engaging in discussions on topics that are current and relevant to the global scenario with speakers from countries such as the United States of America, Australia, France, United Kingdom, Czechoslovakia, Bangladesh and Nepal, apart from India and Bhutan. This year, the festival will welcome almost 80 writers, thinkers, journalists, academicians and cultural icons from different nationalities.
Confirmed international speakers attending the festival include Xyza Bacani, a Filipina documentary photographer based in Hong Kong; Neil Mac Gregor, director of the National Gallery, London (1987-2002) and director of the British Museum (2002-2015); and Australian digital rockstar, Toby Walsh, professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of New South Wales and Data61; amongst others.
The festival will also witness Indian speakers, including Venerable Kabir Saxena, founder and director of Root Institute for Wisdom Culture and a monk since 2002; principal economic advisor to the Government of India Sanjeev Sanyal; and Shivya Nath, author of the bestselling travel memoir The Shooting Star, along with other prominent names from various disciplines.
Eminent Bhutanese personalities from different spheres such as Lt Col Kesang Choeden (retd), the founder of Chuniding Food, an organic and heritage food enterprise; Khenpo Karchung, a monk and a Sanskrit teacher at Tago Dorden Tashithang Buddhist University; Lopen Lungtaen Gyatso, President of the College of Language and Culture Studies, and the Pro-Vice Chancellor of Royal University of Bhutan; author Chador Wangmo and technology entrepreneur, finance and economics writer, marketing strategist, FORBES 30 under 30 Sonam Pelden along with other renowned names will be holding sessions on various subjects.
Mountain Echoes combines the breathtaking locales of Bhutan with its cultural prowess providing the visitors with ample opportunity to explore the rich Bhutanese culture along with a myriad of fascinating experiences. ‘Mountain Echoes is a wonderful brand that we can collectively be proud of, and for which I congratulate Siyahi. On its 10th anniversary it returns to Bhutan bigger and better, as we celebrate this remarkable friendship as two countries,’ Her Excellency Ruchira Kamboj, Ambassador of India to Bhutan