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Tshering Palden 

By the day, Changlimithang is fast changing. The sports avenue has swiftly transformed into a grand crucible for festivity.

Painters are putting the last dash of paint on the main pavilion. Sound systems are installed, the ground is marked to position performers, and colourful tents have cropped up on the edges. The place reverberates with happy music.

The National Day Coordination Committee’s chairperson and Home Minister Sherab Gyeltshen said that it has planned a unique celebration this year.

Lyonpo said that the celebrations in Thimphu are a way of paying tribute to the past, present and future Kings in presence of His Majesty the Fourth King, His Majesty The King, and His Royal Highness the Gyalsey and rejoice the peace and harmony in the country.

“We’re blessed because such occasion would not be there anywhere in the world,” he said.

The National Day is celebrated for the nation and to observe it appropriately every Bhutanese has to know and be aware of how the nation has come to be. Bhutan is different from other countries in that it was prophesised by Guru Rinpoche and the land is sacred.

“On this day, we’ve to recall what our selfless Monarchs, and forefathers have done for the country because of which today we’re able to enjoy peace, prosperity, and unity,” the home minister said. Doing so, one would feel proud  of the  culture,  tradition, our history and to be a Bhutanese. 

The minister said that sitting arrangements have been made to accommodate about 20,844 spectators including 10,000 spectators in the gallery, another 6,000 at the adjacent futsal ground where a giant screen would be installed, and 3,000 more in the tents.

Everyone would be given a goody bag containing a lottery, edibles such as butter mixed with zawo, water bottle, small cake and lyrics for the theme song. “Everyone has to sing along and not watch idly.” Unlike in the past, the lottery prizes this time are changed to digital gadgets to make it relevant to the times. There will be five expensive prizes. 

The gates to the celebration ground will open at 6am and the public have to be seated by 8.15am. The spectators are prohibited from carrying weapons, sharp instruments, and digital gadgets inside the venue.

Free transportation will be provided to residents both within and outside the city. Buses will collect residents from Hongtsho, Chamgang, Wangsisina, Jemina, Kabisa, and Begana to the event venue. The services will begin at 4am and stop at 9am. It will resume only after the programme ends. Residents could also avail free taxi rides within the city on some routes.

There will be a laser light show at Changlimithang stadium beginning 6.30pm. “We’re trying to create portraits of Their Majesties the Kings and other important monuments of Bhutan with music,” the minister said.

A student of Jigme Losel Primary School, Sonam Dorji said he is looking forward to the celebrations. “I’m dancing with my friends and it’s fun,” he said.

An elderly resident, Lhamo said that her family would go to the Changlimithang before dawn. “Otherwise, with the kids it would be difficult to get through the crowd,” the mother of six said. “We don’t want to miss it.”

Besides the military parade, there would be shows, dances and other parades which the minister said adds to the uniqueness of the entire celebrations.

A parade – Hands That Built The Nation – shows how development unfolded in the country and depicts every major milestone the country achieved under the visionary leadership of the Kings.

For the first time, the home ministry has selected four youths to be the Masters of Ceremonies on the National Day.

The dzongkhag administrations would organise celebrations in their respective dzongkhags as usual. There are no participation from the dzongkhag at the celebrations in Changlimithang.

From December 15, as a build-up to the National Day celebrations, there will be various events at the Centenary Park next to Changlimithang public parking. There will be demonstrations of how different meals from across the country are prepared. Monks would demonstrate how a torma is made, likewise there will be painters, sculptors, carpenters, masons, and other artisans as well engaged in their respective trades.

“The idea is to give people a chance to see and understand our culture and traditions,” Lyonpo Sherub Gyeltshen said.

The minister urged residents to take part in the celebrations and to offer prayers for the continued good health, long life and happiness of His Majesty The King, His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, Her Majesty the Gyaltsuen, His Royal Highness the Gyalsey, His Holiness the Je Khenpo, and the other Members of the Royal Family.

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