Centre for happiness opens in Bumthang

Centre dedicated to His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo

GNH: As a tribute to the father of Gross National Happiness (GNH), the Dewaling in Dhingdhima, Chokhortoe, Bumthang was inaugurated yesterday as an western phase for GNH.

Dewaling will serve as the mother centre for the world to serve those in search of purpose of life and happiness.

In his keynote address, agriculture and forests minister, Yeshey Dorji, conveying regrets and greetings on behalf of Gyalyum Tshering Pem Wangchuck and Her Royal Highness the Princess, Kezang Choden Wangchuck for unable to grace the occasion, called upon people to mark yesterday as an occasion to express immense gratitude to the founder of GNH, the Fourth Druk Gyalpo.

“It is also an occasion to pray for long life of the Fourth Druk Gyalpo,” the minister said. “The centre is a humble, but true tribute to a living monument, the Fourth Druk Gyalpo. The centre manifests the timeless and immeasurable gift of the Fourth Druk Gyalpo to its people.”

He said it was befitting that GNH centre is inaugurated at a time when the entire nation is coming together to celebrate the 60th birth anniversary of the Fourth Druk Gyalpo.

Construction of the Nu 20 million (M) western phase for the happiness centre is built on 1.5 acres of land on the left flank of Chamkharchhu. Of the total Nu 20M, Dr John Raimondo from Cape Town in South Africa contributed Nu 14.8M.

“The well-wishers from Taiwan through Master Hung contributed Nu 4M,” the centre’s  executive director, (Dr) Saamdu Chetri, said.

The western phase will serve as space for the centre’s activities until the chief centre on the right bank of Chamkharchhu is ready in over three years’ time.

It took the centre nine months to build the infrastructures manually designed by  Vietnamese architects, Hao and Trung, who also attended the opening ceremony.

The western phase has meditation and conference halls, dining and living rooms, kitchen for teaching faculty and guests visiting the centre until the chief centre is readied.

The chief centre however is still under plan, which will be sprawling on 58 acres of land. The centre besides raising funds for construction of its chief centre is also in pursuit to open similar centres across the world.

“We will have many GNH centres around the world and several satellite units in the country,” the executive director said.

South Africa would soon begin working on opening a GNH centre. Vietnam has already opened one. The third one will be established in Thailand. Germany has also committed two acres of land in Gerald for a similar centre.

The centre is also partnering with several institutions in the world such as Mind and Life Institute, GIZ, Schumarcher College, Bamboo Family and Naropa University among others.

The centre as of now has conducted over 17 international programmes, seven youth programmes, trainings for trainers and tour guides and some school activities in places such as Thimphu and Paro.

“All such programmes would from now be conducted here once the centre opens in March, 2016,” (Dr) Saamdu Chetri said.

The minister also acknowledged the presence of foreign dignitaries who traveled thousands of miles to celebrate the inauguration of the centre.

“Your presence indicate Bhutan isn’t alone in its pursuit of happiness and contentment,” the minister said, adding that the centre will enable not just Bhutan but the whole world by helping many nations experience first hand GNH values to become ambassadors of happiness.

Dewaling symbolizes the pledge of Bhutanese people to GNH wisdom, a wisdom that concerns the spiritual, physical, health of its citizenry and environment uniting people of all age, race, sex, walks of life and nations to reflect the purpose of existence according to the minister.

“This would be the centre for all of us to understand the values and essence of GNH with support of each other in living its values as well as for the future generations to find meaning, contentment and happiness in life,” lyonpo Yeshey Dorji said.

But for the centre’s senior programme advisor, Dr Julia Kim just the opening of the centre itself was emanation of happiness.

“It’s a very happy day to see the centre being opened for we have a clear blue sky, trees, the birds, wonderful food and friendship so what more do we need,” Julia Kim said, adding three years from now Dewaling will be a flourishing centre of happiness.

Tempa Wangdi, Bumthang

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