New Delhi: Over the last five years, the Himalayan Echoes Festival, in the foothills of the Himalaya in Nainital has gained traction with like-minded readers, writers and people with a mountain sensibility who celebrate books, music and poetry in the wonderful setting of the lush green mountains dotted with cedar and oak trees.
The previous year saw the first digital version of the festival due to Covid restrictions and the sixth edition November 20-21, to be held online, will be on the theme C.A.L.M — Creativity, Art, Literature, Mountains, closely mentored by Namita Gokhale and directed by its founder, Janhavi Prasada, as it conjoins similar festivals in Nepal, Bhutan, Shillong and Mussoorie, a coming together that “is of utmost significance for the future of the terrain”.
“This year’s festival is dedicated to the Himalayas and its importance in our ecosystem — our lives, livelihood, environment, our survival. The coming together of mountain festivals of Nepal, Bhutan and India is of utmost significance for the future of the terrain. Through our literary platforms we can reach out to like-minded individuals to create a common goal of spreading the importance of the mountains in our lives, and how best we can conserve not only the physical presence but how best we can learn to live in harmony with the mountains,” Prasada said.
The aim, she said, is to:
Create a space for meaningful, effective mountain dialogue
Involve all age groups of readers, experts and writers
Promote regional writers and mountain related books, poems and research works
Bring together the inter-connected cultures of the region.
Encourage regional art, craft, farming produce inspired by fair sustainable work ethics
Promote local talent in music and art
“Our goal is to resonate voices from the Himalayan region. The intense two-day festival will forefront the beauty and joys of mountain life as well as the challenges before us and delve deep into the cultural diversity and unity of the Himalayan terrain. The shared outreach of the participating festivals will create a positive energy in such times.
“We hope to nurture C.A.L.M as an informal collective of mountain festivals,” Prasada said.
To this extent, on offer will be a vast repertoire.
There will be internationally acclaimed musician Ani Choying Drolma, a Buddhist nun from Nepal known for her soul-stirring Buddhist renditions; Mamang Dai an understated repository of knowledge but a transformative Himalayan thinker from Arunachal Pradesh, also the first woman IAS officer from the region; Arjun Vajpayee, the mountaineering youth icon, who constantly seeks to be one with the Himalayas; Stephen Alter & Akshaye Shah’s compilation of Uttarakhand voices from writer Namita Gokhale works; historian Shekar Pathak on the Chipko Movement; anthropologist Lokesh Ohri on the hidden history of Mussoorie; Gharwal folklorist D.R. Purohit on age-old rituals of Mahabharat; and food critic Pushpesh Pant.
Anjal Prakash will be speaking on the impact of climate change on the Himalayas with Mandakini Kaul, South Asia Regional Coordinator at World Bank; renowned journalist Kaveree Bamzai will be revealed by Prof. Neerja Mattoo on her work on women poets of Kashmir, to mention just a few.
Supported by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), the festival will be broadcast online on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube from 10.30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on each of its two days.
“I wish we could have this conjoining of Himalayan Festivals in its physical avatar right here at Abbotsford (Heritage Hotel in Nainital), but we must wait it out till the next year. And hopefully we can have all our speakers, festival directors, musicians, poets, authors, our audience, aspiring writers, and mountain lovers here in person in 2022,” Prasada concluded.