Phurpa Lhamo  | Punakha

Over a century after Sir Ugyen Wangchuck was installed as the first hereditary monarch of Bhutan at the hall of Pungthang Dewachenpoi Phodrang, the dzong hosts the Gyalyong Duechen (national day) celebration.

On this day in 1907, the Palace of Bliss hall was decorated with wall hangings, banners and silk brocades, and three thrones were installed for King Ugyen Wangchuck, the 50th Je Khenpo Jampal Shenyen and the British representative John Claude White, according to historian Dr Karma Phuntsho.

“They were flanked by rows of clergy and state officials, and the sacred space filled with officers and spectators. The pinnacle of the ceremony was the endorsement of the document containing the contract for the new monarchial system.”

The state clerk read out loud the oath of allegiance. Following the seal of Zhabdrung’s Ngachudrukma at the top of the document, the document was marked with 50 seals of people’s representatives from various parts of the country.

Today, flowers have been planted, red carpets laid and bright lukheps frilled in Punakha Dzong doechey.

This year, His Majesty The King will address the nation from the ground, where a united Bhutan began.

About 30km from the dzong in Goenshari, 76-year-old Gomchen hoisted the Bhutan flag in front of his grocery shop.

Today, he will light a butter lamp, burn some incense and sit to watch His Majesty’s speech on television. “This is a day when all people were united under the First Druk Gyalpo.”

Gomchen said that under the reign of the Wangchuck Dynasty Bhutanese continue to experience happiness and prosperity.

He added that the day was an opportunity for Bhutanese to pray for the blessings to continue. “We should think of our kings, who have come as a blessing to us, and pray that the dynasty continues.”

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a daylong programme prepared by Bhutanese outside and across Bhutan would be telecast on the national television.

“Although we couldn’t be at the venue, it has been made available on television. We could still watch His Majesty on television,” Gomchen said.

“We feel blessed that the celebration is held in Punakha dzong.”