The setting was perfect. The weather, heaven sent. Sherubling Central School in Trongsa was a sea of colours.
The arrival of His Majesty The King, His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo, Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen, His Royal Highness the Gyalsey and other members of the Royal Family made the 109th National Day all-embracing.
Trongsa was once the powerhouse of the nation. All the provincial powers of the past were unified under Trongsa and thus the Kingdom was born on December 17, 1907. Gongsa Ugyen Wangchuck was destined to be the first King of Bhutan and the nation was bestowed with peace and prosperity.
Marking this day in history turned out to be yet another historic moment in Trongsa as the nation saw its past, present and future monarchs in the historically significant place yesterday.
“It is Jigme Namgyel’s first National Day,” His Majesty The King said, opening His address to the nation referring to His Royal Highness the Gyalsey.
His Majesty The King pointed out that from the time of the first Trongsa Penlop, Minjur Tempa, an unbroken succession of Trongsa Penlops have served the country. His Majesty The King became the 24th Trongsa Penlop in the year of the wooden monkey, twelve years ago.
“From that moment onwards, due to the ancient benediction endowed by this sacred place, all my endeavours in the service of the people and country have been favourable,” His Majesty The King said. “Twelve years later, in the year of the fire monkey, the birth year of Guru Rinpoche, I have become a father.”
“It gives me great happiness that on this auspicious year, the people of Trongsa, as well as the people of Bumthang and Zhemgang, are present here to celebrate this wonderful occasion along with me, my Father and my Son,” His Majesty The King said.
His Majesty The King said that as a result of a population explosion, the world today is facing greater threats such as war, terrorism and economic difficulties, but that Bhutan, as a result of the blessings of the Kenchosum, the conscientiousness and prayers of the forbears, the united efforts of the people, and the protection of the guardian deities, has remained in the past year, free from adversity, calamity, or conflict. “Our people have enjoyed a deep sense of security, stability, and peace,” His Majesty The King said.
However, His Majesty The King expressed concern about the increasing numbers of gungtong (absentee households) and fallow land. His Majesty The King also said that people, especially the young, have been migrating to the towns in greater numbers and could face unemployment and other difficulties, and therefore begin to despair.
“This should not be so because there are numerous opportunities in Bhutan,” His Majesty The King said.
His Majesty The King pointed out that there are many opportunities for entrepreneurship and commercial farming in the country, as evident by the level of imports made annually.
“We must ask ourselves then, where we have gone wrong,” His Majesty The King said. His Majesty The King said that to begin any new enterprise, capital is required. “There is a great opportunity here for the financial institutions and banks to make a positive impact by improving access to credit for our youth and rural people.”
His Majesty The King expressed satisfaction that the Central Bank has taken a step in this direction by decreasing interest rates, which in turn has been supported by the banks.
His Majesty The King said that if the financial institutions are able to extend support to young entrepreneurs and farmers, and help in creating opportunities, countless benefits would result.
“It will go a long way in strengthening the sovereignty and security of our country and furthering our social policy of equity and our national objective of self-reliance,” His Majesty The King said.
Among the thousands in attendance was Nidup Tshering, who had come all the way from Sephu in Wangduephodrang. “This is a perfect time to pay tribute to our first King,” he said, following His Majesty The King’s address. Nidup decided to come to Trongsa to catch a glimpse of His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo. “It’s been long since I haven’t seen Drukgyal Zhipa, who has done so much for the people.”
Sangay, along with the villagers of Tangsibji woke up at midnight and boarded a truck at 1am to make sure he got a seat in the front row. He said that local authorities had arranged transportation and almost all villagers showed up full of enthusiasm.
“It is one of the most joyous occasions in Trongsa,” Sangay said. He added that the day marks the enthronement of Gongsa Ugyen Wangchuck as the first hereditary King of Bhutan, who also served as Trongsa Penlop.
Norbu Lhader, 40, from Karshong village also woke up at 1am. Before the break of dawn, he milked his cattle, left enough feed to last a day and rushed to the celebration ground. He said the inspiration and blessings from the three generations of The Kings, was something he could not miss.
Children and students in Trongsa were in awe of His Royal Highness the Gyalsey and remarked on how fast the Gyalsey is growing.
The highlights of the celebration at the Sherubling school ground was the Monpa dance, Peling Ngaging Kuenchham, Nubi zhey and Zhem.
The strongmen competition or Nyagoe dhendur emerged to be the audience’s favourite programme where the Punakha Nyagoe won the competition.
Towards the end, His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen were offered Tshogchang by representatives of five gewogs and the business community of Trongsa.
Tashi Lebay, the melody embedded with messages of prayer, hope and prospect marked the end of a day to be recorded in the history of Bhutan.
Norbu Lhader rushed back to attend to his cattle. Like many others, he said he will pray for the wellbeing of the nation and look forward to many more such historic celebrations.
Tshering Dorji | Trongsa
Additional reporting by Tashi Dema, Nima Wangdi and Tenzin Namgyel in Trongsa