Monday, December 20, 2010

On 17.12.2010 with much splendor and solemnity, we observed the ‘103th National Day’ celebrations in Punakha. The solemnization started with the hoisting of our National flag and singing of our National Anthem filling us with pride and connecting us to our roots. Almost every Bhutanese, the old and young were beyond impatient to watch and listen to the live broadcast of His Majesty the King’s National Day address on BBS tv/radio. The day was celebrated with various cultural dances and sports event.

Hoisting of our National flag, Lekithang, Punakha (17.12.2010)

Calm and safely guarded till ‘Tashi Lebay’ movements started to end the celebrations, it left me with an abrupt moment to pause and reflect. It was then I tried to go back to the past and look into the future. 103 National Days of peace and stability, is a great number of years to reach. As a student I remember studying about this significant day in my history lessons during my high school days. I wasn’t good in remembering the historical timelines but I was pretty interested learning about the times of yore. I still love history. I have lots of historic figures that I admire and celebrate (more on that some other day). And today with a dogged persistence I recall few of those-boring-history-classes to instigate as I compose about the observance of this important event.

Our history dates back to Eighth century with the visit of Guru Rimpoche from India who brought Tantric Buddhism in Bhutan. Another important event in the timeline was the arrival of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel from Tibet in 1616. We still remember and credit him for the construction of most distinct Dzongs, unifying the country and leaving us the Bhutanese National Identity. It was Zhabdrung, supposedly the first ruler of Bhutan who established the dual system of government with a spiritual leader and an administrator leader which still exist to this day. Bhutan emerged as a country having its own share of occasional Tibetan invasions, numerous civil wars and ungracious encounters & Treaties with the British. But there is this singular distinction in the ‘History of Bhutan’, we were never colonized (yes, we were never colonized!) and its one thing that we Bhutanese are proud of and swank about.

The hereditary monarchy was instituted in Bhutan with Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuk as the first king of Bhutan. It was Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck who gained control and ended many years of civil war, and marked the beginning of unprecedented peace, unity, progress and prosperity in the country. On December 17, 1907, sir Ugyen Wangchuk was unanimously enthroned as the first hereditary monarch of Bhutan inside Punakha Dzong (It’s a proud thing for me to be working in this historic place with one of the most memorable landmarks in Bhutanese history. Somehow I can’t stop getting obsessed of this magnificent monument). They really couldn’t have made a befitting decision. This day is celebrated as National Day of Bhutan.

Every nation celebrates National Day under many other symbolic titles for instance Independence Day or Republic Day expressing pride, identity, sovereignty, independence and freedom. It undoubtedly holds a special significance of commemorating the birth of an independent nation. As a Bhutanese we honor it every year with almost everyone partaking in this national event all across the nation. What comes to your heart when you think of December 17? What flashes inside your mind when you think of December 17? What does the National Day mean to you? What does National Day connote in your world? What’s the significance of National Day in your life? I’m supposed to get the answers before I even complete my questions (I hope you could provide me with when you read them).

Statue of His Majesty the fifth King brought in for the procession.

What separates and distinguishes this national event from others is the fact that almost everyone recognizes the significance of the day.  It provides us with a pleasant opportunity to remember the past that took a step into such a future (not to forget the implausible transfer of powers). It is indeed the day for us to pay our homage and tribute to our forefathers, Zhabdrung, the first king and the successive benevolent monarchs thereafter for guarding our sovereignty. It endows us the platform to apparently ‘renew ownership of the nation’. Essentially it is the day for every Bhutanese to celebrate and evoke the patriot within us and be responsible to protect and safeguard the peace, sovereignty and security of our country.

I’m blessed to have born in this blessed kingdom under the leadership of inspiring monarchs. I’m proud to have gotten the domination to write Bhutanese (every time) against the blank box of Nationality option in those obligatory forms. May the ‘sun of happiness’ as they label continue to shine for years to come. As we close this door of a fine Bhutanese history and open yet another door to a new era, let us re-affirm our commitment to serve the “Gyeb, Gyelkhab and Meser”, the Tsa-Wa-Sum on this day. Hope we can free ourselves from corruption as we contribute in shaping the nation, be the country Zhabdrung and the monarchs of Bhutan aspired for and pass a happier Bhutan to the Gen Next.

I read somewhere that “No matter how much you do for your country, it pales in comparison to what you take from her”. So wave your flag and never get tired of being a Bhutanese. Happy 103rd National Day Bhutan! May we enjoy another gazillion years of peace, shine, prosperity, growth and happiness!

Palden Drukpa Gyalo!

A Proud Bhutanese, JC

PS. We have come a long way, enjoy the freedom, stand up & take responsibility for the state of our country today and in years from now.


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