Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Bhutan - Dungse Rinpoche passes away

«Dungse Thinley Norbu Rinpoche
His Holiness Dungse Thinley Norbu Rinpoche, a great teacher of the most learned Buddhist lams and a primary holder of the D├╝djom Tersar (Nyingma) lineage, passed away peacefully at 10.25 am (BST) yesterday in New York.

Rinpoche, 81, who was reportedly ailing from chronic diabetes, passed away in a hospital in New York, according to a spokesperson from Garab Rinpoche’s office in Thimphu.

An emergency meeting held yesterday afternoon among the followers of His Holiness in Thimphu decided to bring His Holiness’s kudung (body) to Bhutan. “There are many disciples and close followers of His Holiness in Bhutan,” the spokesperson said. “A date has not been confirmed yet.”

His Holiness the Je Khenpo, who is on a religious tour of the eastern dzongkhags, offered 2,000 butter lamps in Lhuentse yesterday afternoon, while the central monk body offered 1,000 butter lamps in Punakha dzong.

Dungse Rinpoche was the chief architect of the Thimphu Memorial chorten, which he built under the guidance of his father, Chabje Dudjom Rinpoche, former head of the Nyingma lineage. It was built in 1974 to honour the memory of the third King, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (1928-72).

His Holiness Dungse Rinpoche lived in Bhutan since mid-’50s and has many devotees all over Bhutan. He left Bhutan in the mid-’70s in deferment to the directives of his father, the late His Holiness Dudjom Jigdrel Dorji Rinpoche, to teach in the West. Since then, Rinpoche has been residing in upstate New York.

His Holiness last visited Bhutan in October 2009, on the invitation of Prime Minister Jigmi Y Thinley.

Expressing condolence on behalf of the people and government of Bhutan, Lyonchhoen said that His Holiness was a great teacher and a wonderful human being, who lived a humble life, setting the highest of examples. “A great bodhisattva has departed, leaving all of us with a deep sense of painful loss and grief. We pray for his swift return to continue his mission to liberate all sentient beings,” Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y Thinley said.

During his month long visit to Bhutan in 2009, His Holiness performed tshogkhors (feast offerings) and badza guru lungs (oral transmissions of Guru mantra) in Paro, Thimphu and in Rangjung, Trashigang.

Dungse Rinpoche, who is the father of Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche and Garab Rinpoche, is considered to be an emanation of Longchen Rabjam (Longchenpa), the 15th century Nyingma scholar, and incarnation of Terton Drimed Odser, who was one of the seven sons of Dudjom Lingpa (1835-1904).

Revered by practitioners of Buddhism all over the world, Dungse rinpoche was a pre-eminent teacher of the Nyingma lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, and patron of the Vajrayana foundation in California and Hawaii in the US.

By Rinzin Wangchuk

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Bhutan - Bhutan Travel Experience and the Asian Switzerland

The myth and fascinating reality of Switzerland showcased in a million stories and anecdotes as Europe's paradise on earth has permeated the global consciousness for generations. From Swiss watches to Swiss cheese and from the Swiss Alps to the breath-taking beauty of Swiss lakes, no other country the same size has made its mark on cultures. With one exception though-Bhutan. This is at least true though for those adventure-seeking globe trotters who have experienced Bhutan travel first hand not by watching a stunning National Geographic special on Bhutan treks, Bhutan holidays or Bhutan vacations but by stepping on Bhutanese soil by traveling to Bhutan as a guest of the monarchy since every tourist is a revered guest.
Bhutan travel encompasses at least a Dozen Twists...
Bhutan isn't called "the Land between Heaven and Earth," or "the Fairyland Kingdom," or "Shangri-la" for nothing. The government has sensibly promulgated a long list of rules that govern Bhutan travel. Here are a few for starters all of which have done the job to letter perfection and preserved the pristine cultural and natural heritage of the country:

Planning your Bhutan travel itinerary
You can't simply pick up your bags, board a flight and hop off at the airport in Bhutan, You can visit Bhutan only by participating in a government sponsored travel program in which you pay approximately $250 per day to enjoy the penultimate Bhutan travel experience. The daily fee includes just about everything-your hotel stay, food, personal tour guide, private transportation, entry tickets to monasteries and other places of interest, and once in a while, a meal at an ethnic Bhutanese restaurant. We have both good and bad news for shopoholics. The bad news is that the Bhutan government won't pay you for your personal shopping. The good news, however, is that there is a mind-boggling array of choices to select from most of which are so cheap that you are going to run out of money before you know it!
Visa for Bhutan travel
The visa for your Bhutan travel program is going to be issued by your tour operator and not by any embassy. It will run you no more than $20 per person. We think that's a deal and we know you will agree. This helps the Bhutan government to cautiously control how many tourists are allowed into the country each year much like non-immigrant visas. Bottom line? Plan early because the whole world is gradually beginning to find out what a genuine deal Bhutan travel happens to be and we obviously wouldn't want you to be disappointed!

Bhutan travel means one airport one airline
There is only one airport in the entire country located at Paro and there is only one airline, Druk Air, which flies into the country and that too from no more than about half a dozen countries. It is therefore a great idea to plan your Bhutan holiday at least three or four months in advance so that you are blessed with all the convenient flight connections there are available. Many travelers, who have shared their Bhutan experience first hand through blogs and wikis, have mentioned that the process of landing and take off in Bhutan is an experience on to itself.

What to see when you travel to Bhutan

Now that we have hopefully peaked your curiosity, we want you to conduct some research on Bhutan. Troll the Internet, check out a few travel guides, and most importantly, post an inquiry on your Facebook page to help you find a friend or business associate who has visited Bhutan. You don't need any Wikipedia articles to convince you because everyone who visits Bhutan, tends to rave about it and often wonders aloud why they didn't take the trip a lifetime ago.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Bhutan - His Majesty joins Haaps to celebrate Lomba

Haaps and Parops will remember this Lomba for years to come. This year, they are celebrating the Lomba with His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen.

Lomba is celebrated as the New Year by the Haaps and Parops.

As the entourage arrived in Haa, Their Majesties were received by the monks of the Haa rabdey at the Lhakhang Karpo where the royal couple stopped briefly to offer prayers.

His Majesty is visiting Haa and Paro to assess the reconstruction of houses damaged by the September 18 earthquake.

His Majesty and Her Majesty then joined the people of Jangkakha village in Bji Geog.

Speaking to the people, His Majesty said he was happy to be in Haa as they celebrate Lomba.

“As you plan your new house, I would like to remind you about the importance of maintaining the traditional architecture. I have always cherished my visits here because of the beautiful houses that reflect our age-old culture and traditions,”

His Majesty also reminded the people that the earthquake in September will make the people and the government more prepared.

The people expressed their gratitude to His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen for celebrating Lomba with them.

His Majesty the King also took part in traditional games like Khuru and Soksum.

Friday, 23 December 2011

48 schools compete at the National level

More than 600 students from 48 schools across the country are taking part in the 8th national School Games at Ugyen Academy and Khuruthang Middle Secondary School in Punakha.

The students are the winners from intra-dzongkhag and seven regional level competitions held during this academic year. They will now compete in the national level.

During the five-day event, students will participate in basketball, volleyball, badminton, table tennis, chess and other athletic events.

The Education Minister, Thakur Singh Powdyel, during the opening informed the students on the importance of sports and the national youth policies. Lyonpo said the national school games are being organised not only to excel in sports, but also for building friendship, leadership and unity.

The Education Minister urged the students to be a good and productive citizen.

The event aims to promote games and sports by encouraging mass participation and healthy competition in schools, dzongkhags and regional levels. It is also aimed at helping students to grow healthy, be responsible and productive citizens.

In the coming week, the Department of Youth and Sports will be organising the national level School football tournament at Tingtibi and Yebilaptsa in Zhemgang. A traditional archery tournament will also be organised at Gaselo Higher Secondary school in Wangduephodrang.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Bhutan - Royal couple arrive in Thailand

His Majesty the King, who is on his way back home after a week-long visit to Japan, granted an audience to the Thai Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, yesterday.

Her Majesty the Queen was also present during the audience.

His Majesty expressed condolence for those affected by the unprecedented floods and his solidarity with the people of Thailand.

His Majesty offered his prayers for the well-being of His Majesty King Bhumibhol Adulyadej and the people of Thailand.

His Majesty had earlier sent a letter of solidarity to His Majesty King of Thailand.

The royal couple arrived in Bangkok day before yesterday en-route to Bhutan from Japan.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Bhutan - Their Majesties receive warm welcome

His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen who are in Japan on a state visit were received with a grand welcome ceremony at the Tokyo Imperial palace yesterday morning.

Their Majesties were received by the Crown Prince Naruhito at the palace entrance.

His Majesty was then presented a guard of honour.

Hundreds of Japanese students greeted Their Majesties waving the national flags of the two nations.

After the ceremony, His Majesty granted an audience to the Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito in the empress palace. Later at the Akasaka palace, His Majesty met with Empress Michiko.

The president of the house of councilors and the speaker of the house of representative co-hosted a lunch for their Majesties the King and the Queen.

Senior members of the Japan Bhutan Parliamentary Friendship Association were also present at the lunch.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Bhutan - Their Majesties to visit Japan

State visit Their Majesties the King and Queen will be visiting Japan from November 15-19 on the invitation of the Japanese emperor.

During the state visit, the first by a Bhutanese monarch to Japan, His Majesty will reaffirm the goodwill and friendship of the Bhutanese people towards the people of Japan, and express solidarity with the victims of the earthquake of March 11, 2011.

While in Japan, His Majesty will meet the Emperor and the Japanese prime minister. On November 17, His Majesty will address the National Diet, ­ the Parliament of Japan. The Keio University will confer on His Majesty an honorary doctorate in economics, where His Majesty will deliver an acceptance lecture to the students and faculty.

The venerable Dorji Lopon Kinley and two monks of the zhung dratshang (central monk body) will conduct moenlam (special prayers) at a site destroyed by the earthquake in Fukushima, during the royal visit.

Information & communications minister, Nandalal Rai and labour minister, Dorji Wangdi, will accompany Their Majesties on the visit.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Bhutan - HRH launches her book “Raven Tells a Story

Coinciding with the celebration of the 56th birth anniversary of the fourth Druk Gyalpo and Children’s Day today, November 11, Her Royal Highness Ashi Sonam Dechan Wangchuck launched her book The Raven Tells a Story at the Folk Heritage Museum in Kawajangsa, Thimphu.

This is Her Royal Highness’s first published work dedicated to the Father of Bhutan’s Constitution, the fourth Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Singye Wangchuck.

The Raven Tells a Story is set in a small, bucolic village in Bhutan resonating the life found throughout the country. The story follows the protagonist, Singye, on a quest for answers about a ‘curious book’. His journey towards ‘constitutional’ enlightenment is populated with often transient and ethereal interactions with his close-knit family, his friend Wangyal, schoolteachers and classmates, and the mythic Raven, which is much alike (and in deference to) the historical significance of a Raven that guided the great Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel to Bhutan in the early 17th century.

The book articulates that the constitution of Bhutan is a collection of the finest values and ideas to create a system of government that would ensure the best chance for Bhutan’s progress and stability. It is a statement of [our] faith in a great leader’s vision and hopes for Bhutan’s future as a nation.

The 65-page medium richly illustrates the milieu in which is set the fundamental principles and basic tenets of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan. The ideas of sovereignty, justice, harmony, unity, equality, and good governance are but a few examples of the pillars of a democratic society that are highlighted by this book in a simple yet colourful manner.

The Raven Tells a Story is primarily written for a school-going audience. Nevertheless, both young and old alike will enjoy it for its rich and authentic symbolism and thought-provoking themes of education, participation, empowerment, and public service.

The book serves as a powerful medium, particularly for the Bhutanese youth, for illustrating the broader development realities and challenges that Bhutan faces as a small landlocked nation in an era of rapid globalization. The book also provides, through common incidences of everyday lives in Bhutan, valuable insights into the unique and fundamental values, customs, traditions and the importance of a harmonious balance between the individual, family and community.

The Raven Tells a Story is an extension of Her Royal Highness’s efforts and association with the Bhutan National Legal Institute as its first president. The institute was established in July 2011 to serve as a provider of legal training and education to strengthen the capacity of Bhutan’s judicial personnel and legal professionals; as a forum and resource bank for discourse and research; and, as a key establishment of the Judiciary in conducting legal dissemination and awareness programmes.

Copies of The Raven Tells a Story will be distributed to all schools in Bhutan. The book is published with the financial assistance from the UNICEF.

The Raven Tells a Story is illustrated by Bhutan Observer’s artist, Chimi R Namgyel, and designed by Sonam Phuntsho.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Bhutan - Early next year start for first data centre

Thimphu Tech Park Bhutan’s first commercial data centre should be operational by the first quarter of next year at the IT Park inaugurated this week.

The data centre, which will be run by a joint venture company between a local IT firm, New Edge Technology and the UK firm, Burland Technology Solutions, is hoping to eventually service clients as far as the US, UK and Europe.

Burland CEO, Richard A Vass, said that the first stage would be to establish the centre, Data Centre Services (DCS), in Bhutan and service local clients. The second stage would be to look to regional businesses, like in India and Bangladesh.

“We’ve such good fibre connectivity in this country, there’s absolutely no reason we can’t go to the US, the UK and European countries to host data centres here,” he said.

Vass explained that a data centre is a “very carefully engineered and controlled environment, where IT services, such as hosting websites or software, can be housed.”

He pointed out that IT services require very stable environments, in terms of power provision, temperature control and physical security.

“When IT services aren’t hosted in stable environments, it can lead to poor reliability in the provision of services,” he said.

He said, at Thimphu Tech Park, this stable environment was assured, by having two main utility power supplies from different sources, ensuring power supply redundancy.

To further assure power supply reliability, UPS or battery power supply is also provided to handle any breaks or dips in the supply. This will be further backed by diesel generators.

“So for as long as the servers are concerned, they’ll never see any difference in their supply,” he said.

To maintain cooling of equipment, Vass said that an “innovative, efficient and low cost cooling system” is being adopted.

Explaining a need for constant supply into the data centre, he said, cooling was required, since the heat generated by computer chips, as they work, could destroy the chip itself.

Vass pointed out that an attractive feature for international IT firms would be Bhutan’s temperate climate. He said that Bhutan’s cooler air could be used for “free cooling” of its equipment, which would lead to even lower cost of operations.

He said low cost and hydro energy, which is considered green energy, would be reasons that could attract international companies to set up data centres in Bhutan.

New Edge Technology CEO, Tashi Tsering, said the idea is to establish a world-class data centre.

He said that DCS is aiming at commencing operations by the first quarter of next year, but admitted it was a “difficult, complicated, and expensive” affair to set up a data centre.

He pointed out that the main challenge is in developing the internal capacity or Bhutanese manpower to run and manage a data centre.

“Right now, we don’t have this capacity, so we have to get people from outside,” he said, adding, a challenge remained in learning from outside, and that technology transfer took place till manpower here was ready.

He said another challenge was that many companies have heard of Bhutan, but were cautious and waiting for other companies to take the first step. “They want to see proof of concept before they come in and get their feet wet,” he said.

Tashi Tsering said he expected DCS to employ about 12 people at full operations. He said that, initially, DCS would have to rely more on its experienced partner for expertise, while its bhutanese staff underwent training in India.

DCS did not reveal how much it has invested, or how much rent it will pay to the park. Tashi Tsering said that a data centre required “quite a bit of investment.”

By Gyalsten K Dorji

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Bhutan - Royal Couple in Singapore

His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen are in Singapore on a four-day visit. The Royal Couple arrived in Singapore on Monday.

Yesterday, they met the President of the Republic of Singapore and other ministers.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Bhutan - Bhutan’s bid at the UN Security Council

The Prime Minister said Bhutan will try everything and explore all avenues to win a berth at the UN Security Council.

A non-permanent membership at the UN Security Council will fall vacant at the end of 2012 when India completes her term under the Asia Group.

Speaking at the monthly meeting of cabinet ministers with the media last week, Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y Thinley said the support has been reasonably good so far.

He said though Bhutan faces fierce competition from countries like South Korea and Cambodia, he said the government is doing everything it can to garner international support.

He said campaigning has started in various regional and sub-regional meetings in Europe, Africa and Latin America.

Bhutan voiced its desire to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2013 to 2014 at the 65th General Assembly session in New York last year.

For that, a country must receive the support of at least 129 members.

The election of non-permanent members is conducted through a secret ballot.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Bhutan - Bhutanese students in Thailand flee the floods

Most of the Bhutanese students studying at Rangsit University in Bangkok are returning home as the flooding in Thailand worsens.

The last group of students is arriving in Phuentsholing tomorrow, after flying to Kolkata, taking a train from Kolkata to Hashimara and travelling by bus to Phuentsholing.

The Rangsit University is already submerged under water. The university has been closed till November 14.

According to the Bhutanese student’s coordinator in Rangsit University, Pem Tshering, they have been able to flee only because of the financial support from the office of the Gyalpoi Zimpoen and the Rangsit University.

In Kolkata, the Bhutanese consulate helped the students, providing them accommodation.

Only three students studying at Rangsit have remained back, one because he could not get plane tickets to return home. He will be arriving in Kolkata tonight. The other two have been evacuated by the university to a safer place in the north.

“29 students are already here in Kolkata. We flew in yesterday,” said Pem Tshering from Kolkata.

There are also other students studying in other universities.

They are reportedly not at risk from the rising flood waters as Rangsit University.

Rachana Pradhan, a B.Sc. Nursing student at the Naresuan University, said they “contacted the university authority. They said we are safe at the moment and no one has left for Bhutan.”

“Well, there could be problems regarding food, water and medicine if the problem continues. Supplies were already running out, so as a precaution we bought rice, oil, instant noodles, drinking water in stock to be safe.”

The Bhutanese Ambassador to Thailand, Tshering Dorji, said they are in constant touch with the university authorities. He said the embassy has been helping the Bhutanese students studying in Thailand.

He said the embassy is urging Bhutanese students in Thailand to stay in close contact with the embassy. Altogether, there are over 400 Bhutanese students studying in Thailand.

Students from Rangsit University however said the Bhutanese embassy in Bangkok has not been very supportive.

They said the embassy did provide them with accommodation at the embassy premises but apart from that there has not been much by way of help.

The students were running out of money and stock of food items and spent over a week at the embassy premises.

A few have also posted their frustration on facebook, networking site.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Bhutan - India’s president hosts banquet in honour of His Majesty

The President of India Pratibha Patil hosted a banquet in honour of His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen at the Rashtrapati Bavan last night.

Welcoming His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen to India, President Pratibha Patil said it was an honour and a privilege that His Majesty’s first visit abroad after his wedding is in India.

His Majesty said they were humbled by the manner in which they were received.

“Deciding to visit India, a week after our marriage, it came naturally. After all, India has always been a home away from home.”

“Your Excellency, your invitation is an unprecedented gesture of warmth and solidarity towards me and towards Bhutan, a gesture that Jetsun and I accept with great humility and deep gratitude and one that we will over the course of our lives always try to live up to as your closest friend.”

Prior to the banquet, His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen met with President Pratibha Patil.

Yesterday afternoon, His Majesty granted an audience to the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, Vice President, Mohammad Hamid Ansari, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and National Security Adviser Shiv Shankhar Menon.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Bhutan - His Majesty arrives in Delhi

Sunday, October 23, 2011

His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen left on a state visit to India this morning.

This is the first visit abroad after the royal wedding on October 13.

Upon arrival at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, the royal couple was received by Union Minister for State Deora Milind Murli, Chief of Protocol Ruchira Kamboj and the officials from the Royal Bhutanese Embassy.

They were also greeted by a large number of Indian journalists representing almost every media organisation.

While in India, His Majesty will meet the Indian leaders and discuss matters of mutual interest and cooperation.

The royal couple is accompanied by the Home and Cultural Affairs Minister Minjur Dorji, the Minister-in-Charge of Foreign Affairs Khandu Wangchuk and the Chief Operations Officer of the Royal Bhutan Army Major General Batoo Tshering.

This morning, His Majesty King and Her Majesty the Queen were seen off by Their Royal Highness the Princes and Princesses and the Paro dzongkhag officials.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Bhutan - Thousands celebrate in Paro

Thousands of people in Paro celebrated the royal wedding yesterday.

The celebrations in Paro were organized specially for the working committee headed by the Prime Minister which organised the royal wedding celebrations.

His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, Their Majesties the Queen Mothers, and members of the royal family also graced the celebrations.

The Ugen Pelri Palace ground where the celebrations were held was packed with people by 8am in the morning. Many of the spectators had come as early as 4am.

As the celebrations continued, His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen interacted with the public shaking hands, holding children and hugging the elderly.

People offered tashi khadar and students received autographs from the royal couple.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Bhutan - Royal Couple undergoes Hindu marriage

His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen yesterday visited the Durga Mandhir, located near the Thai Pavilion in Thimphu. The royal couple offered prayers and exchanged garlands as a part of a Hindu marriage.

His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen were greeted by the members of the Hindu Sambodhaya of Bhutan, its chairman Dasho Meg Raj Gurung and the members. The royal couple then entered the temple in a procession called Naumati Baja which is performed during Hindu marriage. A long queue of excited people greeted the royal couple outside the temple.

Once inside the temple, His Majesty and Her Majesty the Queen lit butter lamps and offered prayers. The royal couple then exchanged flower garlands known as Soyambar mala as part of the Hindu marriage ceremony.

The Hindu Sambodhaya of Bhutan offered a Ramayana book and the statue of Vishnu and Laxmi to His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen. Hindus believe kings and queens to be the incarnations of Vishnu and Laxmi.

In return, His Majesty donated money for the construction of the new Hindu temple below Kuenselphodrang and for the development of the Hindu Sambodhaya of Bhutan.

His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen then met with the people who had gathered at the temple to meet them.

The Chairman of the Hindu Sambodhaya in Bhutan said the royal visit to the temple was of great significance for the Hindu Sambodhaya of Bhutan and the temple.

“We are deeply touched by His Majesty’s visit to the temple on the happy occasion of royal wedding”

The pundits and hundreds of people who gathered at the temple also offered Tashi Khadhar to the royal couple.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Bhutan - Thousands celebrate in Changlimithang

Tens of thousands of people packed the Changlimithang stadium as the nation celebrated the royal wedding of His Majesty the King to Her Majesty the Queen Ashi Jetsun Pema Wangchuck today.

Many had come as early as 2 am in the morning to make sure that they will be not left out and miss the opportunity of catching a glimpse of their King and Queen.

Long before the royal couple, the dignitaries and the guests arrived and the celebrations began, the stadium was literally overflowing. After sometime, police had to deny entry for the safety and comfort of the spectators who were already inside the stadium. Many returned home to watch the celebrations live on BBS TV.

The only noticeable outside guest at the celebrations was India’s Congress General Secretary, Rahul Gandhi, a longtime friend of the Bhutanese royal family.

The celebrations began with His Majesty unveiling a Guru Thongdroel, roughly the size of a 12 storied building, by far the biggest Thongdroel to be made in history, and Their Majesties the King and the Queen lighting butter lamps and offering prayers to the Guru Thongdroel.

Midway through the celebrations, His Majesty made a brief, impromptu speech, to thank the people and the organisers for the seamless celebrations. His Majesty began by talking about how happy he was for being able to celebrate his wedding with his people.

His Majesty thanked His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo for the socio-economic progress Bhutan has made and the continued peace and prosperity it enjoys, the Royal Grand Mother and Their Majesties the Queen Mothers for their support and tireless service to the nation and concluded the brief, informal speech by pledging to serve the nation tirelessly with Her Majesty the Queen.

Before His Majesty began his speech, he surprised the nation by planting a kiss, first on the cheek and after a moment’s hesitation on the lips of Her Majesty the Queen in full public view which was received by thunderous clapping and cheering by the crowd.

The celebrations were majestic with one entertaining cultural programme after another. The highlight of the celebrations was the presentation of the Wangzhey performed by His Majesty the King leading a team comprising of the Prime Minister, the opposition leader, cabinet ministers, and members of the parliament which they performed with grace and panache.

The Wangzhey was first performed by the people of Wang Tshochen Gay at Pangrizampa for the reception of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel.

His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen spent a good part of the day walking hand in hand among the people, stopping every now and then to talk to them, asking them whether they are enjoying themselves, to hold their hands, or lift a child a child to plant a kiss on its cheek.

The celebrations ended with Tashi Lay-bay.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Bhutan - The Royal Matrimony, The Queen is Crowned

The Royal Wedding ceremony of His Majesty the King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck took place in the Puna Dewachen Phodrang in Punakha. Jetsun Pema was sanctified as the Queen of Kingdom of Bhutan by His Majesty the King.

The ceremony began at 4 am with the initiation of soong-chhoe prayers at the Marchen Lhakhang and Kuenra of the Punakha Dzong. His Majesty the King, escorted by the sacred retinue, arrived at the Dzong from the Royal Lingkha and lit a golden lamp and offered prayers before the Thongdroel of Zhabdrung in the first courtyard of the Dzong.

The Royal Bride was led in chhipdrel procession into the Dzong, where she lit a golden lamp before the Thongdroel, and exchanged Tashi Jel-Dhar with His Majesty the King.

The Raven Crown and the crown for the Queen of Bhutan were brought out from the Most Holy Macchen Lhakhang, along with a Golden Bumpa and the sacred five coloured dhar.

The Fourth Druk Gyalpo bestowed the sacred dhar upon the Royal Bride, sanctifying the Royal Wedding.

In the Kuenrey, The Royal Bride offered the ambrosia of eternal life, signifying her devotion to the glorious continuity of the Wangchuck Dynasty, from the Golden Bumpa, to His Majesty the King.

His Majesty then bestowed the crown of the Druk Gyal-tsuen to the Royal Bride, and Ashi Jetsun Pema, now as Druk Gyaltshuen Jetsun Pema Wangchuck, ascended to the throne of the Queen of Bhutan, to the left of His Majesty the King.

The ceremony at the Kunrey ended with the offering of Tashi Nga Soel, symbolic offerings to their Majesties the Queen and King of Bhutan. His Holiness the Je Khenpo, The Fourth Druk Gyalpo, and members of the Royal Family and guests offered tashi khadar to the royal couple.

Their Majesties the King and Queen then joined the people of Punakha and guests in a public celebration outside the dzong.

His Majesty granted tokha to the people gathered at the celebration ground.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Royal Wedding - LIVE on BBS

The Proceedings of the Royal Wedding at the Puna Dewa Chhen-poi Phodrang, Punakha will be broadcast LIVE on BBS TV from 7am

Bhutan - Banknotes and Coins to Commemorate Royal Wedding

The Royal Monetary Authority has printed commemorative banknotes and minted silver coins to commemorate the Royal Wedding.

The notes and the coins will be available in Bank of Bhutan, Bhutan Development Bank Limited and in the BOB counter at the Paro Airport from October 13th till 4th of November.

The note will cost Nu. 500 and the silver coin will be Nu. 5,000.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Bhutan - Royal Wedding stamps launched

To celebrate the World Postal Day, Bhutan Post launched eight different stamps portraying His Majesty the King and the royal bride today.

It was launched by the venerable Dorji Lopen of the central monastic body.

The Deputy Managing Director of Bhutan Post said the office will remain open during the holidays coinciding with the royal wedding to provide free postal service.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Bhutan - Buddha’s tooth relic arrives in Bhutan

His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, Their Majesties the Queen Mothers, and Their Royal Highnesses the Princes and Princesses offered prayers and received blessings from the sacred tooth relics of Lord Buddha and his two chief disciples.

The relics of Lord Buddha, Sangay Shacha Thupa, and his two chief disciples, Sharibu and Mougelgibu will be displayed at the Tendrey Thang from tomorrow till Wednesday.

The relics will be kept in the country for a month. They will also be displayed in Punakha, Tsirang, Trongsa, Monggar, Trashigang and Samdrup Jongkhar.

The relics arrived in the Kingdom today with the Prime Minister who was returning home after attending the 66th UN general assembly in New York.

They belong to the Maha Bodhi Society which has its headquarters in Kolkata, India. The Prime Minister is the president of the Maha Bodhi Society.

Arriving at the Paro Airport, the sacred relics were received in a chipdrel procession by the Tsugla Lopen of central monastic body, cabinet ministers, and senior government officials, monks of the Paro rabdey, dzongkhag officials and local leaders.

They were brought to Bhutan on the request of the Prime Minister. They will remain in Bhutan for one month.

This is the first time that the relics were brought to Bhutan.

On his way back home from the UN general assembly in New York, the Prime Minister attended the Maha Bodhi Society’s 114th Annual General Meeting in Kolkata, India.

Lyonchen Jigmi Yoeser Thinley made offerings and prayers for the wellbeing of all sentient beings and protection from natural calamities. He also offered prayers for the victims of the recent earthquake in India.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Bhutan - His Majesty assures help

Doteng & Tsento, Paro 30 September, 2011 - His Majesty the King visited the gewogs of Tsento and Doteng in Paro yesterday, to examine the extent of damage caused by 18 September earthquake.

His Majesty spoke to residents of Tsento and Doteng, and also listened to their concerns and needs, and urged residents to share their personal experiences during the earthquake. Paro dzongkhag has reported more than 2,100 houses affected by the earthquake, the highest number of any dzongkhag.

“I can’t tell you not to worry,” His Majesty said. “However, I assure you that we, the government, people and king, will work together to restore your lives.”

His Majesty said that he was aware that lack of labour caused by rural to urban migration, and the upcoming harvest season will conflict with repair efforts. His Majesty assured those affected and requiring assistance that the army will be dispatched to aid and reconstruct homes and be provided necessary finances.

Once repair and reconstruction works commence, His Majesty said that he would return periodically to inspect the effort.

During the visit to the two gewogs, His Majesty also entered to inspect some houses that had been deemed too risky for inhabitation.

The head of one household, Kipchu, 54, said the happiness and gratefulness he felt would pass on to his next life by the royal visit. Kipchu, and his family of seven, live in a makeshift structure roofed with tarpaulin, next to their severely damaged house. Kipchu said His Majesty had told him and his family that they would have a home again.

During the interaction with the people of the two gewogs, His Majesty also pointed out that earthquakes are unpredictable and could happen at any time, ranging anywhere from years to days. His Majesty said that the best preparation is to have well constructed and sturdy houses built.

His Majesty the King also pointed that a positive aspect of these tragedies is that “we are all learning from these experiences, and getting more prepared and better skilled to deal with these disasters.”

While saddened by the damage caused His Majesty said, “It warms my heart to see the whole nation, the government and the people working together.” His Majesty added, “We rejoice together, we grieve together.”

By Gyalsten K Dorji

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Bhutan - More than 3,400 houses damaged

UPDATE: The number of injured from the earthquake on Sunday has risen to nine. The quake damaged more than 3,400 houses, 12 dzongs, 220 other historical monuments and 63 education centres.

The earthquake also damaged 20 Gups offices, 15 RNR centres and a hospital and 11 Basic Health Units.

Of more than 3,400 houses damaged as of today, 1,491 were reported in Paro.

The Ta Dzong or the National Muesuem in Paro suffered minor damages. 52 lhakhangs and 19 chortens were also damaged in the dzongkhag.

In the capital Thimphu, the 6.9 magnitute earthquake caused numerous cracks to the Tashichhoedzong. The Utse of Lingshi Dzong and the Dungkhag office were completely damaged while half of the Lam’s residence collapsed. Three lhakhangs in Thimphu have also been damaged.

In Punakha 544 houses were damaged. The Puna Dewai Chenpoi Phodrang and the Talo Dzongs suffered numerous cracks. Besides, 30 lhakhangs, 11 chortens, nine educational centres, three Gup’s office, a basic Health Unit and a RNR centre have been damaged.

478 houses were damaged in Wangduephodrang. The Dzong and the Nyzergang Lhakhang developed numerous cracks.

31 lhakhangs, seven chortens, 25 educational centres, six Gup’s offices, five RNR offices and two Basic Health Units suffered damages.

Haa reported the maximum number of injuries. Of the eight injured in Sunday’s quake, four of them are undergoing treatment at the National referral Hospital. In terms of structural damages, several houses have been damaged.

Chhukha reported one casualty leaving another one injured. 130 houses were damaged. These include houses in Phuentsholing and Tshimalakha.

The Chhukha dzong, nine lhakhangs, 7 chortens, 4 educational centres, the Chhukha hospital, three Basic health Units and RNR Centres and a Gup’s office were also damaged.

In Samtse 73 houses, 3 lhakhangs, 4 education centres, 3 gups offices and a RNR centre was damaged. An injury case was also reported.

In Gasa, 115 houses, the dzong, two lhakhangs, three chortens, an educational centre, a Gup’s office, a Basic Health Unit and a RNR Center were also damaged.

117 houses were damaged in Dagana, along with the dzong, two lhakhangs, five chortens, five Gup’s offices, three educational centres, two RNR Centres and a Basic Health Unit.

Over in Trashigang, 214 houses, six lhakhangs, an educational centre and a Basic Health Unit was damaged.

Trashiyangtse reported of 111 houses that were damaged. The dzong, three lhakhangs and five educational centres also suffered damages.

In the other dzongkhags of Trongsa, Bumthang Zhemgang, Sarpang, Samdrupjongkhar Tsirang and Pema gatshel, a total of 137 houses were damaged. This does not include the Trongsa and Zhemgang dzongs.

A total of 22 lhakhangs, six chortens, 11 educational centres, two basic Health Units and a Gup’s Office were also damaged in these Dzongkhags.

This is only the preliminary report and the Department of Disaster Management is still in the process of compiling detailed reports.