Bhutan's annual literary retreat kicked off on Wednesday evening at an informal event where festival directors paid glowing tributes to former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee by remembering his tryst with the world of words.
The inaugural event was earlier scheduled to take place at India House but it was cancelled since the Indian Embassy here, like elsewhere, is mourning Vajpayee's demise.
Festival co-director and acclaimed Indian writer Namita Gokhale began the evening's proceedings by delivering a short address in Vajpayee's remembrance.
She cited Vajpayee's visit to the landlocked Himalayan country in 1977 and said that he read out out a poem in his trademark style, which, as is widely known, involving plenty of gestures.
Tshering Tashi, co-director of the Mountain Echoes literary festival, shared that Vajpayee had visited Bhutan during the winter time but had remarked that the hospitality of Bhutanese people made him feel warm and comfortable.
Tashi said that in his poem, the former Indian Prime Minister "generously praised" the Bhutanese people. He said that Vajpayee was so overwhelmed by the Bhutanese that he weaved his sentiments for the people in verse.
Later, singer Usha Uthup led the crowd to the beats of her songs. Also seen at the evening was veteran Bollywood actor Naseeruddin Shah.
The Who's Who of Bhutanese literary circles, along with at least 72 writers, thinkers and artists have assembled in the picturesque capital of Bhutan to mark the ninth edition of the Mountain Echoes literary festival whose seeds were sown by former Indian Ambassador to Bhutan, Pavan Varma.
The festival will host a wide range of sessions on themes ranging from contemporary literature to wildlife and environment conservation among others.