In Haa, at the foot of Meri Puensum Mountains and from the courtyard of the newly rebuilt Lhakhang Karpo, sound of unity and sovereignty reverberated yesterday as the nation marked its 110th national day.
The arrival of His Majesty The King, His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo, Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen, His Royal Highness the Gyalsey, and members of the Royal Family made the national day special for the people of Haa.
It was special because the celebration of national day coincided with Lomba and the 10th anniversary of His Majesty The King’s on the golden throne.
“We must have earned some collective merit in the past to have this opportunity this day to celebrate lomba with Their Majesties The Kings and the Royal family,” said Gakidling Gup Ghashey.
The excitement that had been building in Haa for the past few months burst into loud music of joy, cheers and laughter yesterday.
Despite the freezing weather, Dawa Tshering and his family from Tshaphel village in Haa arrived at the venue as early as 3:30am. The 47-year-old said it was a rare opportunity to celebrate Lomba together with His Majesty The King, His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo, and the Royal family.
By 5am, Lhakhang Karpo was crowded with hundreds of people.
As the elaborately-decked Lhakhang Karpo glistened in the morning sun, the faces of spectators beamed with joy as Their Majesties and Members of the Royal Family were ushered in the temple courtyard in the grand traditional Chipdrel ceremony.
Every body there was waiting to hear His Majesty address the nation.
His Majesty highlighted the external and internal elements that could undermine the country’s sovereignty and security.
“In today’s interconnected world, any event in a distant part of the world has repercussions in our own country,” His Majesty The King said.
“For us, it is most important that no matter how grave the external threats, nothing can harm us if we are united like members of a closely bonded family. Our society, as small as it is, cannot be threatened if we are conscious of the potential threats and remain steadfast in protecting our common interests,” His Majesty The King said. “But more than external factors, we can become more vulnerable with internal instability.”
Bhutan has been most fortunate to be a close-knit community, His Majesty The King said. “We must safeguard the integrity of our mutual relationships. It is vital that this fidelity is preserved because it is the quintessential strength of our sovereignty and security, well-being, and happiness.”
His Majesty The King also pointed out that the country’s greatest achievement in the evolution of governance has been the establishment of democracy.
His Majesty also expressed his optimism about the future and positive outcomes of the 12th Plan. “If we continue to be resilient, intelligent, conscientious, and work hard, guided by the philosophy and shared national vision of Gross National Happiness, we will not lose our direction.
“We cannot afford to be complacent. We are a small and vulnerable landlocked country between two large neighbours. India and China together have more than two and a half billion people. A large proportion of their population are young and capable, highly-educated, and skilled. They do not shirk from hardship and they work hard. And there are hundreds of thousands of them for each one of us. So, for us to achieve equal standards of living, we have no choice but to work harder and become more capable,” His Majesty The King said.
His Majesty The King also told the youth not to wait for government initiatives and for parents to push them forward. “In a fast-moving high-tech world where the only limit is your imagination, you must learn to take charge of the transition and inevitable evolution. You must take the first step.”
His Majesty commended the government’s effort in implementing the developmental activities and reminded the people of the challenges that a developing nation like Bhutan may face in the future.
As the event continued with cultural programmes, 76-year-old Aum Bokhu from Baytso village rose to leave. She could not take the loud noise. She had never seen her King in person. This day, she could see both.
“I’ve no reason to remain here. My wish of seeing our Kings is fulfilled. I am very happy,” she said.
The Haaps also got the opportunity to sing Lolay and to perform Chundu Gongzey.
As the programme neared conclusion, a few elderly citizens were seen facing Lhakhang Karpo and praying for the wellbeing and long life of Their Majesties The Kings.
Tshering Dorji | Haa
Additional reporting by Tshering Palden and Rinchen Zangmo