It isn’t even two in the morning. Waking up from the sidewalks where for the lack of accommodation facilities most people who had come from far-off villages of Samtse had to put up through the night, people rush to the gates of the celebration ground.
Too many people; not enough space. The celebration ground is overwhelmed. Soon the security officers raise human barricades to stop the crowd. An ad-hoc arrangement is being made in front of Samtse Lower Secondary School’s academic bloc where already a large crowd has gathered. Thuep and tea is served for the people who are in already but that doesn’t matter a lot to those who are still jostling outside: If they cannot enter the celebration ground, they will watch the event on the screen. No way they are heading back home without witnessing the great event for which they prepared for months.
It’s a warm morning on December 17, Monday. Bright and perfect. The sound of cymbals and drums – the crowd look towards the gate. His Majesty The Fourth King arrives. And then His Holiness the Je Khenpo. His Majesty The King, Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen, and His Royal Highness The Gyalsey arrive not long after. As The Gyalsey bows with respect to his grandfather and His Holiness, the crowd melts. It is a moment that will be remembered by those who witnessed it.
Sprinkled generously with cultural and fun items, the National Day is also a solemn occasion. As His Majesty The King said, National Day is a most significant event. It is the day for the people to reflect on the immense sacrifices of our elders, to pay our respects, and to rededicate ourselves to the service of the nation.
His Majesty The King: “Is everyone happy today?” A loud cheer from the crowd.
It is a happy occasion for all of us, His Majesty The King said, particularly for the people of Samtse because we have among us today, His Majesty the Four King and His Holiness the Je Khenpo.
Bringing the recent elections to focus, His Majesty The King said they were successful because of the hard work put in by the election commission, the armed forces, media, and volunteers. The experience acquired so far has been invaluable and tangible and the nation has been able to strengthen democratic foundations, establish electoral procedures, and address the setbacks confidently.
Because bureaucracy is at the heart of nation’s development and link between the people and the elected government, His Majesty said that at a time when plan activities and outlays are increasing, strengthening bureaucracy is critically important.
With developments come challenges and His Majesty cautioned that as the new government takes over and is preparing to carry out plans of national importance, challenges would continue to mount.
His Majesty The King reminded the nation that as the scope of projects increases, the associated risks are also magnified and urged the people, particularly the public servants to always remain alert, prepared, and mindful, in order to manage resources prudently. The nation can ill afford complacency in the public service.
His Majesty The King emphasised on the advantages Bhutan has. A small country, Bhutan is in a position to be more efficient.
Pungi, 72, from Soeltapsa who had come with her relatives, said she would never forget such a beautiful moment in her life. “I wanted to see our little prince and also receive blessings from His Holiness. I am among the few lucky today.”
As the celebration drew to close, Tshering Pemo from Tendruk gave one final look at the celebration ground. She has to go back and Tendruk in far. “It feels like I have lost an integral part of me. I am sad that our King and the royal family had to leave us.”
Jigme Wangchuk | Samtse