Celebration: Exactly at 10:10 am yesterday, the nation began planting 108,000 saplings. Almost one in seven Bhutanese planted a sapling with prayers for His Royal Highness The Gyalsey.
Organized by the coordinators of the Tendrel Initiatives, the programme’s news release read: “…just like a bountiful tree, may The Gyalsey also grow up healthy, strong, wise and compassionate.”
Tree planters held the saplings in their hands and prayed for HRH The Gyalsey before they placed them in the earth.
“May these trees grow up to stand as a testament of our prayers and wishes for His Royal Highness The Gyalsey: for His glory, health, happiness and well-being,” said agriculture minister Yeshey Dorji.
The event’s turnout was overwhelming. In most of the dzongkhags, people who came out for plantation outnumbered saplings.
“I am happy and satisfied,” said Tenzin Lekphell, one of the organizers. “The turnout was amazing. It spoke volumes about love and respect for The Gyalsey.”
At Kuenselphodrang in Thimphu, some 6,000 people turned up to plant about 5,200 saplings. Those who did not get sapling watered the plants and engaged themselves in cleaning the beds of the saplings that were planted earlier.
“Even those trees planted earlier deserve our care and adoption,” said one volunteer who had adopted a tree that was planted last year.
Near each sapling was carefully hoisted a placard bearing the name and telephone number of the planter so that the caretakers will call the planter if the sapling needs extra attention.
“In no time in our recent history has so many people gathered to celebrate an event. I am also amazed at the overwhelming national outpouring of emotions and sentiments that I see today,” said Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji.
About 82,000 saplings were planted in the villages of 205 gewogs; 26,000 saplings were planted in 15 dedicated plantation sites in 14 dzongkhags.
In Gasa, the dzongkhag marked the event in Mani Village with a simple Lhabsang Thruesey ceremony. Volunteers also planted trees around Lha Tsho.
Eleven gewogs in Samdrupjongkhar planted 6,126 saplings that were distributed to individual households. Likewise, 11 gewogs in Pemagatshel also joined the nation in planting 4,390 saplings.
Trees have special spiritual significance. “It was under a tree that the Buddha got enlightened. A tree also represents life, longevity, creation and beauty,” read the initiative’s news release.
“This massive event today also reinforces our pledge to the world to safeguard our planet for the future generations,” Tenzin Lekphell said. “Each tree that we planted today has been adopted by our people, ensuring that each one will grow into full maturity. Seen from this perspective, the benefits are tremendous.”
The initiative in all 20 dzongkhags began with Lams reciting thugmoen (special prayer).
Project Dantak was also involved in the environment feat and planted 108 saplings in Thimphu, Phuentsholing, Paro, Chapcha, Samdrupjongkhar, and Kanglung.
It took the initiative three days to distribute the saplings.
Happiness garden launched
A 10-acre land was identified at Kuenselphodrang to create a Happiness Garden with the idea that at least one person from every country in the world will plant a tree in Bhutan.
Thirteen Chinese and two Greek tourists were the first to plant “happiness tree” yesterday with their names on the placard.
The concept of “Happiness Tree” in “Happiness Garden” was introduced by Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) with the tagline “Off to Bhutan to Plant a Happiness Tree”. The idea is to give tourists an opportunity to promote happiness and protect environment while promoting tourism in the country.
To give ownership, the caretakers will send photos of the plant on regular basis, recording the growth of the saplings to the tourists who planted them.
“We hope to bring the people around world closer,” said TCB’s spokesperson Damcho Rinzin.