Friday, 24 February 2012

Bhutan - 45 ft. Buddha statue to stand tall at Centenary Park

Coinciding with the32nd Birth Anniversary of His Majesty the King, a group of Thai people laid a foundation stone to erect a Buddha statue. The 45 feet tall statue of a walking Buddha is the first of its kind in the country. The abbot of Thailand Venerable Phrakhrusangkharak Boonsong Upasamo and Minister for Works and Human Settlement laid the foundation stone.

More than hundred Thai people and Bhutanese gathered at the Centenary Park to celebrate the Birth Anniversary of His Majesty by laying the foundation stone for a walking Buddha.

Ninety nine balloons were released and candles were lighted for peace. Thai and Bhutanese monks then chanted prayers. As part of the celebration, classical Thai dance to worship Buddha, traditional Bhutanese dance and mask dance were performed.

The statue is worth approximately Baht 500 million. It is expected to be built within 38 days and will be consecrated on April this year. The princess of Thailand personally donated about three million baht while the rest were donated by the people of Thailand.

The statue facing Thimphu town will be built on a platform of lotus along with symbolic animals like horse and elephant among others.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Bhutan - Nation celebrates His Majesty’s Birthday

Feb 21 2012

His Majesty the King and Gyeltsuen joined with the people of Sarpang to celebrate His Majesty’s 32nd Birth Anniversary today. Thousands of people gathered at Gelephu public ground to mark the day.

His Majesty the King and Gyeltsuen were received in a traditional chipdrel ceremony followed by Jepai Pawo and Marchang.

Rabdey, civil servants, Thromdey, armed forces and the public of Sarpang Dzongkhag offered Kusung Thugi Mendrel to His Majesty the King.

A guard of honour was also presented by the Armed Forces. Students from different schools then performed the March past.

Addressing the gathering, His Majesty the King expressed gratitude to the fourth Druk Gyalpo for giving him knowledge,

skills and trust and to the people for wonderful support and prayers.

Various cultural activities and entertainments were performed by the students. Their Majesties took part in the entertainments programmes.

His Majesty the King and Gyeltsuen personally met and interacted with the people and students.

The day ended with Trashi Labey. A lunch was also served to the people gathered.

Celebrations in Thimphu and other Dzongkhags

In Thimphu, thousands of people gathered at the Changlimithang stadium to observe the day. His Royal Highness Prince JigyelUgyenWangchuck also graced the occasion.

The Chief Guest, Minister for Works and Human Settlement,Yeshey Zimba, highlighted the significance of the day. He called on the nation to join him in paying tribute to His Majesty the King on His Birthday. “Let us all, especially the youth who are here today and those across the country, pledge to His Majesty the King to stop indulging in unwanted activities like drug abuse and other problems.”

Students from different schools in Thimphu performed various cultural programmes as part of the celebration.

In Punakha the celebration was graced by Her Royal Highness Princess Sonam Dechan Wangchuck.Over in Paro, His Royal Highness Prince Jigme Dorji Wangchuck graced the celebration at the Ugyen Pelri Palace ground. Students from schools in Paro, Gewog dancers, and mask dancers performed various cultural activities. Hundreds of people took part in the celebrations.Similar celebrations, including the offering of butter lamps for His Majesty’s long life, and for the peace and prosperity of the Kingdom, were observed in all the 20 Dzongkhags.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Bhutan - Booming handicraft shops in Paro

Paro is one of the popular tourist destinations in the Country. Important historical sites and its scenic surroundings make Paro a must visit place for the tourists. Also because Paro is the gateway to Bhutan by air.

Every year thousands of tourists visit Paro and as a result many handicrafts and souvenir shops have come up in recent years. A detour of the Paro town, and one will come across so many handicraft and souvenir shops. In fact these shops have outnumbered other shops like grocery, garment, and hotels. About four to five such new shops are being established every year in Paro.

How are they doing in terms of business? The shop owners say that all is not well with the business, especially at this time of the year.

Enter any shop, there is not much varieties in the items sold. Most of the items for sale are hand woven ghos and kiras, religious and old traditional items.

In order to give choice to the tourists, some of the shop owners bring similar items from Nepal and New Delhi in India. However, according to one of the shop owners, Tshering Dhendup, tourists prefer to buy locally produced garments and items. „Most of the tourists come through Nepal and India, so they are not really interested to buy.“

One of the most popular items sold during the tourist and Tshechu seasons is the hand woven ghos and kiras. Therefore, most of the shops are adorned with expensive garments like Keshutharas, Metshimathras and other embroidered Ghos and Kiras among others. There are also some tourist couples who come to Bhutan to get married.

Some of the shops have weavers for themselves so that they do not have to buy from others to sell it to the tourists. „It is cheaper and easier if we have our weavers. We can also design and weave according to the demand in the market,“ said of the shopkeepers.

One of the biggest challenges faced these shops is lack of customers, especially at this time of the year. And also as the number of shops has gone up, some of the shopkeepers say, the business is not that lucrative anymore. They also say that, roadside sellers and hawkers, during important events and occasions, also hamper their businesses.

Although tourists are scarce at this time of the season they are, in deed, looking for the tourists season to arrive in few months time. For now, that is their only hope.

There are about 50 handicraft and souvenir shops in Paro.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Bhutan - Hydropower projects to be guided by Country’s Law

In the recent 8th Empowered Joint Group meeting in New Delhi, India it was decided that the joint venture hydro power projects will be carried out as per the country’s law. One of the major demands put forward by the Indian Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) was that they will not return back the hydropower project free of cost after 30 years. But, after prolonged negotiation it was resolved the projects will be given to Bhutan free of cost in good running condition.

The Empowered Joint Group meeting also decided that the term of ownership of the project will be only for 30 years as per the law of the land. The PSUs demanded the ownership for 35 years. The Indian PSUs had also agreed to pay the 12 % royalty of the power generation to the government during the loan period. After the loan period is over, the PSUs will pay 18 % royalty to the Bhutanese government. It will also pay corporate tax for 10 years after commissioning of the power plants.

Meanwhile, the Indian PSUs will own 51 percent of the projects while 49% will belong to the Druk Green Power Corporation. The PSUs will pump in 70 percent of the 17 billion rupee required to construct the power plans while the remaining 30 percent will have to be managed by Bhutan. Government of India has also agreed to grant the money for Bhutan.

The board of the projects will have equal member from both the sides with a maximum of five members each.The four power projects are the 670 megawatt Chamkarchu in Bumthang, 600 megawatt Kholongchuin Trashiyangtse, and 600megawattWangchu and 180 megawatt Bunakha reservoirs in Chukka. Meanwhile the four joint-venture projects will have a combined capacity of 2,000 megawatt. The construction works of the four mega hydropower projects will begin from end of this year or early next year.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Bhutan - Season of love and marriage

It is a season of love and marriage in Tsirang. Couples are tying their knots in elaborate wedding ceremonies. Every nook and corner of Tsirang is echoing with the sound of jubilation.

The wedding ceremony is a grand and elaborate affair in the southern Dzongkhags. For a couple to begin a new life, it is mandatory to undergo the wedding ceremony. The wedding celebrations begin days before the actual wedding day and go on for weeks. Several pre-wedding ceremonies take place before the actual wedding day.

The pre-wedding rituals are traditional customs that are considered to be auspicious for the wedding and the married life of the would-be couple. It is also a way to mentally and emotionally prepare the bride, groom and their families for the marriage. The pre-wedding rituals take place both at the bride and the groom’s place.

Today, Nar Bahadur Pradhan is going to the bride’s home, to officially seek permission to marry her. “I am happy because I am going to get my wife. I feel nervous at the same time fearing that I might miss something do during the wedding ceremony,” says the nervy groom.

On the other side, Dik Maya Pradhan, is preparing the biggest day of her life. She says she feels sad to leave her parents behind. “So far I have been living with my parents.”

The actual wedding ceremony takes place at the bride’s place. The wedding ceremonies mostly happen in the night. But it differs according to location and caste.

The couple ties their knot officially in front of many people. Family members, relatives and neighbours gather for the ceremony and rejoice throughout the night.

A short ceremony is held in the morning, before the groom takes away the bride. This ceremony is usually an emotional ceremony for the bride and her parents. The ceremony marks the end of bride’s stay with her parents to start a new life with the groom’s parents.

“I feel unhappy to give my daughter to someone. But it’s our tradition that we should sent our daughters to her husband’s home. Our ancestors have been following the tradition. So am trying to be strong and happily send her with her husband,” says Gita Maya Pradhan, the bride’s mother.

It is a tradition for the bride to leave her house and live with the husband’s family. Only if there is no male child in the bride’s family, then the groom will live with the bride’s family.

The ceremony is held mostly in the keeping with the tradition.

But the tradition is undergoing change with time.

For example, in a traditional marriage ceremony, the bride and the groom have no choice of their own. The weddings are arranged by their families and are bound to accept their parent’s choice. The marriage was also held at a very young age.

“Previously, we were married against our will by our parents. Before that marriage took place as early as seven years old,” says Lachi Maya Pradhan.

According to Kasi Nath, there were more divorce cases because people were forced to marry very early. “I got married at the age of eleven years old.”

But today, marriage is about choice. Arranged marriages are rarely happening. The boy or the girl can choose their own partners and propose their parents for the wedding ceremony. If their parents deny their proposal, they elope, after which most of their parents accept their relationship.

It is mandatory for relatives living in other parts of the country to come and participate in the wedding. It is also customary for those living outside their village to come and get married in their village.

“We have to come and attend the wedding ceremony. The bride is related me so I came from Thimphu to attend her wedding. We come and help them,” says Laxmi Narayan Pradhan.

People, both young and old, attend the wedding ceremony. For the younger ones it is a reminder that they have to undergo such ceremonies in the future. For the old ones, it is a time to reflect how successful their married life has been. It not just a ceremony for a couple to come together and start a new life but also a rare opportunity for the family members, relatives, friends and neighbours to get together.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Bhutan - His Majesty the King offered prayers and Khadars to the Kudung of late Dungse Thinley Norbu Rinpoche at Dagophu in Paro today.

His Majesty the King and the Gyaltsuen, His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, Their Majesties the Queen mothers and the princesses offered prayers and Khadars to the Kudung of late Dungse Thinley Norbu Rinpoche at Dagophu in Paro today.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Bhutan - Late Dungse Rinpoche’s Kudung arrives in Bhutan

The Kudung of late Dungse Thinley Norbu Rinpoche arrived in Paro from New Delhi today. On arrival to Paro airport, the Kudung was received by Her Royal Highness Ashi Kesang Wangmo Wangchuck, National Assembly Speaker Jigme Tshultim, Finance Minister Wangdi Norbu and devotees.

Our reporter, Chimi Dorji, says that hundreds of devotees lined up along the roadside leading to Dagophu under Lamgong Gewog and received blessings from the Kudung. The final rites will be carried out at Dagophu on March 3. The Kudung will be kept in Paro till 4thFebruary for the public to receive blessings.

Before being flown to Bhutan, the Kudung was received by the Bhutanese embassy in New Delhi yesterday. About 100 Bhutanese residing in Delhi came to receive blessing from the Kudung

The Kudung will be flown to Yonphula where it will be taken to Rangjung Woesel Choeling monastery in Trashigang. It will also be taken to Chador Lhakhang in Bartsam and Yonphula Lhakhang and back to Paro on February 15.

Born in 1931, late Dungse Rinpoche was a prominent master of Nyingma lineage, a renowned teacher and an author of numerous books on Buddhist teachings. Dungse Rinpoche passed away on December 27 at California in United States. Rinpoche last visited Bhutan in October 2009, on the invitation of Prime Minister Jigmi Y Thinley.