His Majesty celebrates National Day with the people of Paro

Celebration: The whole town is awake and the people are rushing to the celebration ground.

This day’s observation of 108th National Day celebration in Paro is special. And this is happening at a historically significant venue – The Ugyen Pelri Palace – the seat of the once powerful Paro Penlop Kusho Tshering Penjor.

It is early morning, 3am. Paro, December 17.

The winter sun is mellow and the air cold. But the day is bright and the atmosphere most serene. The significance of the day has added special colour to the day. And the King arrives.

People turn solemn and earnestly reverent all of a sudden. Glad they are that the monarch extraordinaire has come to partake of the joy and success of the nation with the people of Paro Dzongkhag. And there is His Majesty the Fourth King and the Royal Family.

The National Day is important to us, His Majesty said. “On this day in 1907, Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck became the first hereditary King of Bhutan, and from that day onwards, the successive Kings, the government, and people, have worked together in harmony to build our nation. Their collective efforts over the years have resulted in the peace and prosperity that we enjoy today.”

His Majesty said while some countries suffered economic crises, others had to deal with internal conflicts, terrorism, war and natural disasters in 2015, Bhutan, with the blessings of the Kenchosum, the merit of the people, the prayers of our ancestors, and the protection of our guardian deities, this year was filled with peace and happiness. “I am deeply satisfied by our hard work and achievements.”   His Majesty informed that next year is not only the birth year of Guru Rinpoche, who came to Bhutan in the 8th century, but also marks 400 years since Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel began the wheel of the dual system of governance in Bhutan.

“Since then, 54 desis governed the country, beginning with Desi Umze Tenzin Drugyel, and ensured that Bhutan remained united. We have had an unbroken line of Je Khenpos beginning with Je Pekar Jugne, to Je Trulku Jigme Chhoeda today. Their efforts have helped the dharma to flourish boundlessly,” His Majesty said.

“Since 1907, with the installation of the hereditary Monarchy, our successive Kings, along with the people, have worked tirelessly to achieve our national goals and strengthen our country.”

The collective efforts of those years culminated in the establishment of the democratic system of governance in 2008, said His Majesty. “With democracy, we aspire to build a just and harmonious society, strengthen our beloved country, and fulfill all the aspirations of our people.”

His Majesty bestowed upon some 45 retired civil servants gold medals for the service they rendered to the nation and the people with true faith and utmost dedication. Among them were teachers and educators, engineers and agriculturists, linguists and lamas.

This award to the citizens emeritus was instituted by the Royal Civil Service Commission in 2013 to remind and encourage the young and highly potential civil servants to work even harder for the benefit of the country and the people. The success of this fast prospering nation hinges on the strength and dynamism of its civil servants, said His Majesty The King.

This year’s National Day in Paro, the one-time capital of Bhutan, was also markedly extraordinary because His Majesty the King gave special recognition to education and the educators. Bhutan has come a long way in terms of socioeconomic development, but its future will inevitably depend on the success of education and growth of excellence in teaching, said His Majesty the King.

His Majesty The King emphasised on the importance of protecting and preserving Bhutan’s rich culture and heritage that give shape to the face of a nation that is increasingly becoming an example of a good and successful country in the comity of nations. In the last one decade, seven dzongs in the country were renovated, three newly built, and some 300 choetens entirely rebuilt. There are still 2836 choetens in the country to be rebuilt.

That is why the service of some seven Bhutanese traditional engineers and architects were recognised with gold medal.

“We are lucky to have been able to celebrate the nation’s most important day with His Majesty The King. We pray for the nation to succeed beyond what it has been able to until now. Peace and prosperity will come so long as we have monarchs like we have been blessed with,” said 78-year-old Aum Kencho.

His Majesty the King informed the people that Bhutan has a unique advantage to achieve great heights. Time has now come for the people of the country to act for the benefit of the country and its people.  It is a matter now of whether we can muster the courage to do it, not of whether we can, said His Majesty The King.

Jigme Wangchuk