Ninth edition of Mountain Echoes lit fest begins with tribute to Vajpayee

Thimphu, August 23: The curtains on the ninth edition of the Mountain Echoes literary festival went up with a tribute to former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was remembered at the annual event for his animated style of poetry recitations.
Recalling one of Vajpayee’s visits to Bhutan, festival co-director Namita Gokhale last evening said his poetry was loved beyond the language barriers.
“In 1977, Atal ji came here and, impromptu, as was his style, with his hand movements, read out a poem in Hindi, which everybody loved but could not understand,” the writer said.
Vajpayee passed away last week at the age of 93 following a prolonged illness.
The Indian statesman was also remembered by Bhutanese writer and festival co-director Tshering Tashi, who said, for the Bhutanese, Vajpayee’s best poem was the one that he composed in 1977 at the India House here.
Overwhelmed by the “warmth and hospitality” of the Bhutanese people, the former PM, in his poem, had “generously praised Bhutan”, he said.
“The late PM described Bhutan as the land of the gods and the Bhutanese as hardworking and illustrious,” Tashi said.
41 years later, as Bhutan remembered the poet in Vajpayee, the country continued its celebration of literature with the unveiling of yet another season of the Mountain Echoes literary festival.
The current edition, the Royal Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk said, was “very significant”, as the Bhutanese considered the ninth numeral “very auspicious”.
“So let’s make it a happy one, an interesting one and a vibrant one, and let’s open our hearts and renew old friendships and make new ones,” she said.
This year, the festival celebrates 50 years of Indo-Bhutanese relations and will see participation by 75 eminent speakers who will discuss a wide range of topics including environment, music, theatre, and art.
The festival will come to a close on August 26. (PTI)