As usual, Boktomo, 70, in Dakpai, Zhemgang woke up early to say her morning prayers yesterday.

She heard someone shouting outside before dawn. It was the village tshogpa, informing them that there is a bus service if they want to go to Zhemgang town for the National Day celebration.

“I never got an opportunity to be a part of the celebration,” she said. “I grabbed a kira and readied myself.”

At the Zhemgang Lower Secondary School ground, Boktomo was with a group of elderly citizens, folding her frail wrinkled hands together as students sang the national anthem.

She didn’t know what National Day was about but said she watched television programmes and thought it was about His Majesty The Kings.

As the master of ceremony (MC) explained the significance of the event, she said it was because of the Monarchs that the country has developed so much. “People today do not have to contribute labour and tax. Everyone lives in peace and prosperity.”

Like her, Choki Gyeltshen, 61, from Dakpai also came yesterday morning from Dakpai to celebrate the day for the first time.

He knows National Day is celebrated every year but couldn’t come to Zhemgang headquarters to be a part of it. Dakpai is 19kms away.

“The dzongkhag authorities sent us a bus today and more than 40 people from our village travelled here,” Choki said.

Zhemgang dzongdag, Lobzang Dorji, said the dzongkhag administration not only sent bus services to nearby villages of Dangkhar, Dungbi and Dakpai villages but also sent invitations to all civil servants and senior citizens so that they could participate in the event.

He said they started the celebration by offering 1,000 butter lamps at the dratshang.

Dzongrab Kinzang Dorji, said all local leaders and regional offices performed cultural programmes. “We are celebrating it in a grand way so that everyone could understand the importance of the day and revere the sacredness.”

He said the National Day celebration is the most important event of all.

The dzongkhag multi-sectoral task force (MSTF) and RENEW’s community-based support system (CBSS) organised a fundraising party.

“We raised fund on November 11 and contributed it to Yebilaptsa and Panbang hospitals for the needy patients,” the dzongdag said. “Today’s fund will be contributed to Zhemgang hospital.”

Tashi Dema  | Zhemgang