Thimphu: The final day of the ninth edition of Bhutan’s distinctive literary, arts and culture festival, Mountain Echoes literary festival brought together literary stalwarts from across the world to the lap of the Himalayas.
The day started with the session ‘The Songs of Milarepa’, which saw acclaimed author Andrew Quintman, and eminent Bhutanese playback singer Chimi Wangmo, in conversation with Deki Choden, founder of the Thimphu-based Early Learning Centre Primary School and Educating for Lifelong Citizenship High School.
The trio spoke about the life of the 11th-century Buddhist poet and sage Milarepa, considered to be one of Tibet’s greatest mystics. The story of his dramatic and troubled life, his enlightenment, the songs and poems he composed continue to inspire generations of spiritually inclined people.
Andrew Quintman said that Milarepa’s songs and poems are “literary masterpieces” which remain relevant even today. Chimi Wangmo sang a few verses from Milarepa’s songs, transporting the audience to the time of the mysticism saint. The melodious performance received a standing ovation and loud applause from everyone present, including Her Majesty the Royal Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck.
Talking about what drew her to singing religious songs, Chimi Wangmo said she “feels blessed” when she sings religious songs. She added that the songs and tales of Milarepa are even relevant to young people.
Resonating with a mix of old-world charm and a contemporary vibe, Mountain Echoes literary festival has set the pace for discussions on ancient cultures and current issues in the heart of Bhutan. The three-day cultural extravaganza will close on August 25.