This December, an otherwise forlorn Dorokha was twice-blessed. As the last month of the seventeenth year of the new millennium was unfolding, His Holiness, Bhutan’s 70th Chyabje Rinpoche Trulku Jigme Choeda, visited the Dungkhag and blessed our newly constructed Gatshelling Lhakhang in a most elaborate tradition of religious consecrations.

In the closing week of the month, a fervent prayer was fulfilled as the jubilant people of the three gewogs welcomed the rare incarnation of Lord Vishnu as our beloved Druk Gyalpo Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck arrived at Dorokha for His Majesty’s first royal visit to the Dungkhag.

Villages and homesteads came alive like never before as young and old from across the gewogs woke up early, loaded fodder in animal-pens, dressed in their finest and raced through country-paths or rode on dirt-roads to secure their place in the big tent on the school ground. They couldn’t miss the dream-opportunity of a life-time. Little wonder, as the multitude swelled, the vigilant desuups had to shift the boundary-enclosures to make room for the thousands who waited in awe and anticipation.

As His Majesty arrived at the festive grounds, after a morning visit to Gatshelling Lhakhang, the whole environment illuminated in wondrous light and rare joy. Following the sacred offering to the Druk Gyalpo, His Majesty addressed the expectant crowd directly and expressed royal delight at His maiden visit to Dorokha and meeting the people.

The royal command to serve Tokha to the public was accompanied by a rich repertoire of entertainment items especially prepared by the local communities to welcome His Majesty The King. Some of the national artists from the royal entourage added a special flavour to the occasion as they sang some of the finest local songs of a by-gone era. A touch of humour was provided by some of our well-known jesters. His Majesty mingled with the crowd and applauded their performances, often talking with the people around.

This has to be Druk Yul. Where in the world would the Head of State travel to the nooks and corners of his country, meeting his people and mixing with the commons to listen to them in this day and age? It was a moment extraordinary in every sense of the term as the people held their breath and heaved towards the royal presence of our nation’s vital life-force – emotionally, psychologically, prayerfully. With our beloved Druk Gyalpo in the midst of His people, it was one breath, one pulse, one home — all at once as the Majesty of a People’s King shone on. This was Bhutan at her best – integral, sublime, perfect.

As the afternoon sun began its descent, it pleased His Majesty to command that many people would have come from far and would have far to go, so it was time to call it a day. But that He would come again soon – with Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Gyalsey. That evening, His Majesty would have to meet the people and listen to their needs – in person.

Chandra, from Dorokha but now settled in Sibsoo, couldn’t believe that he was sitting right in front of His Majesty The King and submitting his appeal such as he was. When he came home, he was literally struggling to contain his joy and good fortune, as were so many others who had the rare opportunity of receiving an audience as our beloved King heard them and talked with them as a caring father.

As I listened to Chandra, a four millennia old truth from Tiruvalluvar returned to my mind:

That land is safe under his parasol

Who hears with patience what may not please…

But this is our beloved Monarch, the People’s King, the cohesive principle of our nation, the symbol of our stability and strength, the reason for our hope and confidence. May the guardian deities of our land bless our beloved King, Country and People forever! May the sun of peace, prosperity and happiness forever shine on our dear Druk Yul!

The next morning, as the royal chopper took to the sky, it took with it our hearts and our souls and our prayers. As His Majesty returned to the capital, this royal journey back revived the saga of a different time and told of the epic leap that Bhutan has made from an age when the Father of Modern Bhutan, Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, took the old Raj Marg from South to West via Dorokha three glorious generations ago.

Beyond words and confessions, the rare blessings that came to Dorokha this December will live forever…

Thakur S Powdyel

Royal Thimphu College.