As the year near its end, there is one special day all Bhutanese look forward to. December 17, our National Day is not only the most significant day for Bhutan, but a day where Bhutanese from all walks of life come together as a big family to celebrate with pride and joy.

The gathering today at Changlimethang and in all the dzongkhags and beyond is an uplifting moment for all of us. For the first time in three years, we are coming together in a huge festive mood.  Last year, it was at the courtyard of the Trashichhodzong and the year before, in the Punakha dzong as gathering had to be restricted because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 Changlingmethang ground and many others around the country would come alive and reverberate with the sounds of music and dances that we had missed for two years. The National Day is symbolic in many ways. 115 years ago, when Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck was unanimously elected as the first hereditary Monarch by the clergy, the officialdom and representatives of the people, it was a victory for Bhutan as a nation. We emerged from a difficult period of instability, internal strife, and external threats. It heralded an era of peace and prosperity.

 The 115th National Day this year has some resemblance to the first. The gathering in a festive atmosphere today is the testimony of our success in emerging unscathed from a pandemic that has wreaked havoc in many parts of the world. It is symbolic of our staying together in fighting the pandemic and emerging victorious,  the tha dam tsig among the people, government and our King and above all, rare leadership that guides a nation during uncertainties.

 Life in the past two years had been disrupted, but it had been the years of introspection and reflection, some say a period of diagnosis. We have made good use of the crisis. There were several initiatives to relook into our flaws, strengths and weaknesses. Learning and unlearning, we have hit a transformation mode. There are reforms initiated, policies and legislation changed to suit the emerging needs. Meanwhile, we have restored national monuments, revived old trails and paths, zoned our towns and leveraged technology.

Now the time is to look forward. A lot of priorities had been set. His Majesty The King had been profoundly and bluntly clear in the Royal messages to the people. Like every National Day, the people ardently wait for His Majesty’s address to the nation. The Royal address provides the perspective and the guidance. We have listened to and were convinced by the wisdom shared in the Royal addresses only to be forgotten soon.

 This National Day, as we gather once more to listen to our King, an appropriate moenlam could be pledging to not forget or ignore the advice and guidance after the celebrations.