The lady-literati behind Mountain Echoes: Namita Gokhale & Mita Kapur
The Mountain Echoes Literary festival, an initiative of the India-Bhutan Foundation, in association with Siyahi, powered by Department of Tourism, Government of Rajasthan held in the sublime mountains of Bhutan, is one of its kind, arranged by the Rajasthan-Bhutan association.
The 7th edition of Mountain Echoes sponsored by Jaypee Group was held in late August this year in Thimphu, Bhutan. We bring to you some excerpts of our conversation with festival director Namita Gokhale and festival producer Mita Kapur regarding the experience behind the curtains.
Bhutan is an ecological hot-spot, and a symbol of peace, pride of passion. It is a confluence of ancient knowledge and young democracy, and the festival is a symbol of continuity and change. “It has taken root among the Bhutanese readers and helped process new writing and publishing, and provided a platform for interaction with Bhutanese, Indian and international writers,” said Namita Gokhale.
The objective and effort behind Mountain Echoes was to invoke the unique character and spirit of mountains everywhere, the Himalayas in particular, and Bhutan specifically.
The Cultural Experience
The theme of the 7th edition was ecology and climate change. The graying horizon of the environment was the driving factor behind such a theme. In the words of Namita, “Given the impact of the subject on life around us, and the power of Amitav Ghosh's new book, the subject chose itself.”
The festival being a joint venture of the Department of Tourism, Rajasthan and Bhutan, mountains and the desert come together with the love of words, music and culture.
The content and programming of the event is worked upon by the four festival directors Pramod Kumar KG, Siok Sian Dorji,Tshering Tashi ,and Namita Gokhale through the year and fused together by the producer Mita Kapur.
The 7th edition was graced by Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk, and replete with performing arts, spiritual discussions, sessions on relevant social issues, and workshops on writing, photography, yoga. The evenings were made interesting with Intimate get togethers and astounding music.
Mita Kapur, the founder and CEO of Siyahi, a literary consultancy, says “The festival is not being done for profit. Siyahi is a trust and we manage somehow to cover our costs and sometimes we don't.”
Sponsorships help to manage finances of the festival. The Jaypee group has sponsored Mountain Echoes since 2015. “They have a huge presence in Bhutan and came forward to support us at this crucial juncture,“ adds Kapur.
Mountain Echoes is an exploration of his spiritual, political and historical heritage and promising possibilities for the tourism industry in Bhutan. With an audience turn out this year of approximately 10,000, it is an important forum for creativity and exchange between Bhutan and India. “We want the festival to remain rooted intellectually and culturally while reaching out to the world,” expressed Gokhale.
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