About 8,000 spectators are expected to attend the celebrations at Lhakhang Karpo 

The stage is set for the 110th National Day celebrations in Haa.

The pride of Haa is draped intricately in colourful scarves. Flagpoles and eight lucky signs adorn the road. Streets are swept clean and the people are attired in their best.

Thousands of people from Haa and neighbouring areas gathered at the courtyard of the newly-constructed Lhakhang Karpo yesterday for the final rehearsals.

The celebration will include indigenous cultural programmes and strongmen contests. Prayer ceremonies to ward off diseases and obstructions will conducted for the new year.

On hearing the loud music and congregation of people, Lhab Gyem, 95, from Kibiri village abandoned her cattle in the nearby forests and came to Lhakhang Karpo where rehearsals for the National Day celebrations were in full swing.

“I didn’t even care to dress up because I didn’t want to miss anything,” she said.

The mood at the ground is terrific. Laughter reverberates across the courtyard and the valley as young and old witness the cultural programmes that have been screened numerous times. Villagers, students, and civil servants prepared more than 40 cultural programmes.

Happiness is evident on 55-year-old Lhab Dorji’s face. He is part of a group of elderly men and women from four gewogs of Haa dancing to a rigsar song.

He said the group had difficulty practicing the song. “Despite practising since November 6, we could only attain this level of moves,” he said. “Synchronisation is the little problem still, but we hope Their Majesties will like the performance.”

Gomchey, 60, from Haatoe, will sing lolay, the prayers for a good year ahead. “We feel blessed that both our Kings will be here to celebrate with us our new year this year,” Gomchey said. “Everyone is excited. Look at the weather, it seems even local deities are pleased.”

Haa Dzongdag Kinzang Dorji said the preparations have been underway for the past two months. The dzongkhag, expecting about 8,000 spectators, raised additional gallery with logs and planks.

He said the public has been forthcoming in their contributions in cash and kind. The dzongkhag has received support from the communities in organising the event.

Bjee Gup Pasang said people in anticipation of the Royal visit offered voluntary labour. Each chiwog in his gewog will contribute 400 pieces of hoenteys for the event.

The event has numerous significance to the locals.

“It is more special because it is celebrated at the residence of the local deity, App Chungdu,” Dzongdag Kinzang Dorji said.

He said that special programmes include songs like Bja Thangka Gyem, Haap’s Ausa, Haa Zhey and Chundu Gongzhey.

Dzongdag Kinzang Dorji said that hoentey, chugu and cottage cheese fried in butter would be served to the public during the tokha to mark the celebrations of Lomba.

Haa Lam Neten, Jampel Dorji from Kibiri, said that completion of the lhakhang construction in October marked an important milestone for the people of Haa.

“The new lhakhang means a proper residence for 70 monks and a proper place to stage the annual dzongkhag tshechu,” he said. “This will become a symbol of pride for our people.”

The lhakhang’s construction cost Nu 153 million.

There are two versions of how the lhakhang came to be. One version has it that a group of people emerged from the Chenreyzig mountain, one of the three mountains behind the lhakhang representing the three Gods: Chenreyzig, Jampelyang, and Chhana Dorji. They then built the Lhakhang Karpo and Nagpo. The valley was hence named Haed after the people emerging from the mountains.

According to the second story, two temples were among the 108 temples the famous Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo built in a day in the 7th century to subdue a demon who was obstructing the construction of a temple in Lhasa.

Lam Jampel Dorji said that the previous lhakhang, which is retained in its original state.

Bhutan Toilet Organisation will manage the toilet in four areas with 40 local volunteers. It has imported portable toilets for VIPs. Clean Bhutan has conducted a cleaning campaign with the dzongkhag administration and the students, and placed bins at numerous points for the day.

Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) officials have been inspecting food in hotels and restaurants for the past two days.

The dzongkhag has arranged buses to ferry people to the celebration venue beginning.

Tshering Palden| Haa