Male Iron Rat Year

Phurpa Lhamo | Punakha

In the past year, Bhutanese were reminded of the significance of Pungthang Dewachhenpoi Phodrang as it played host to a series of historic events. 

The Palace of Bliss went on to witness the year’s most historic moment—holding grounds to the three generations of the Wangchuck dynasty on the 113th national day celebrations. Amid the pandemic, the celebration brought much excitement to Bhutanese.  

His Majesty awarded the Druk Thuksey institutional medals to the health ministry and the DeSuung for their contributions in combating the pandemic. 

The moment also came as an opportunity to reflect on the changes required in the education and civil service as His Majesty The King spelt out necessary reforms. 

In September, volunteers and devotees prepared for the state funeral ceremony (purjang) of His Holiness the late 68th Je Khenpo Tenzin Doendrup, which was held on November 7. The event was televised across the country as public access was restricted given the risks of Covid-19. 

A few days later, His Holiness the Je Khenpo appointed new Tsugla Lopon, Yonten Lopon and Gaytsho Lopon at the dzong.  

Before these events unfolded, dzongkhag administration focussed on agriculture production. 

As many farmers in Punakha grow vegetables on commercial scale, the pandemic hit them and the vendors hard. Concerns about the low price for their produce were raised numerous times at various platforms. 

As lockdowns continued, farmers blamed ‘middlemen’ for the hike in the price in the market. Due to the pandemic, the price for the popular Punakha chillies also plummeted.

The pandemic situation worsened with increasing cases in December, and those in Punakha came together with a strong sense of solidarity. Bhutan Red Cross Society (taxi drivers) members in Punakha volunteered to provide free rides to the sick visiting the hospitals. Several schools in Punakha also played host to those students who were relocated from Phuentsholing to continue their education. 

And as Covid-19 positive cases emerged from the Phenteykha village in Punakha, farmers stood grounds to support the infected and Covid-19 safety protocol were enforced strictly in the village and those around it. 

The dzongkhag also saw numerous crimes. Two men, both in their seventies were charged for statutory rape last year. Another two men were arrested for breach of lockdown protocols.