The weather was on a lot of practical minds before the 16th April Zhabdrung Kuchoe and naming ceremony of His Royal Highness The Gyalsey.
This was because rain was forecast for Punakha on 16th April 2016 with a real possibility of the gathering in the Punakha Dzong and the public outside being drenched during the ceremony.
Given that it is summer another issue for the many attendees was if a fierce sun would make it uncomfortably hot in Punakha’s comparatively lower altitude.
This would explain many dignitaries wearing lighter material Ghos instead of the usual silk ones as it would not get spoilt by rain and at the same time keep away the heat.
However, in line with the auspicious tendrel of a special Zhabdrung Kuchoe, the weather Gods not only cooperated but also helped the event with a light drizzle in the early morning, that helped settle the dust on the highways and grounds.
A thick cloud cover and light breeze throughout the day ensured that the temperature was pleasant and cool for the entire day.
The highlight of the day was when just a few seconds before His Majesty the King announced HRH The Gyalsey’s name the thick clouds, as if in perfect timing, opened up above Punakha Dzong and a warm and bright halo of sunshine shone through it enveloping HRH The Gyalsey and the gathering.
There was a collective gasp from the gathering and murmurs of approval at this yet another sign of good tendrel. Many heads turned upwards to confirm that the sun which was ringed by clouds in a circle shape was actually shining down on the Dzong.
The sunlight lasted during the duration of His Majesty the King’s speech, where His Majesty the King announced Jigme Namgyal Wangchuck as HRH The Gyalsey’s name, and also afterwards when His Majesty moved through the gathering with HRH The Gyalsey in hand.
Once His Majesty the King left the Dzong with HRH The Gyalsey, almost inexplicably, the clouds took over again.
Many gathered in the Punakha Dzong including high lams of the Zhung Dratshang took all of this as an auspicious sign. After the ceremony and over lunch, there was much discussion on the good signs shown on an auspicious occasion.
This is especially so as HRH The Gyalsey’s birth has been marked with a series of good tendrels. The first is that this year is the birth year of the Guru Rinpoche, secondly it is the 400th year of Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyel’s arrival in Bhutan and thirdly the date of 5th February was an auspicious day on the Bhutanese calendar.
In February, the announcement of the birth of HRH The Gyalsey saw many people uploading pictures of Dragon like cloud formations on the social media.
A day before the naming ceremony, several cars and buses from all over Bhutan and especially Thimphu headed for Punakha and Wangdue taking up almost all the hotels rooms and other hospitality people could find. Such was the level of anticipation.
Saturday early morning saw the Thimphu-Punakha highway again choc a block with all manners of vehicles including buses heading for Punakha.
Many Members of Parliament mindful of traffic issues came together in a bus.
While the Saturday morning sky was heavy with thick clouds the atmosphere was even heavier with anticipation as both young and old people headed for the Punakha Dzong.
In the brightly festooned main courtyard of the Punakha Dzong a sacred and rare Thongdrel of Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyel watched over the buildup of many dignitaries in the main courtyard.
The new arrivals initially lined up to take blessings from many sacred relics and items associated with Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyel.
After the blessings, the people mingled about and met with friends and associates but it was done in almost hushed tones given the significance of both the place and the event. The usual loud laughs and guffaws were missing as a serene atmosphere had taken over the gathering, which seemed to be sub-consciously aware of both the sacredness and historical importance of the Pungthang Dewachenpoi Phodrang and the special day.
Around half an hour before 10 am the gathering divided up into different lines allocated to different groups like the Royal Privy Council, Armed forces, Constitutional Bodies, BCCI etc.
The sound of traditional Chipdrel instruments around 10 am was a final indication of the arrival of the Royal entourage.
The first to come in were His Majesty the Fourth King, Their Majesties the Queen Mothers and Their Royal Highnesses.
Then His Majesty the King, Her Majesty the Gyaltsuen, His Royal Highness The Gyalsey arrived accompanied with the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers and other senior officials.
In a touching scene His Majesty the King handed over HRH The Gyalsey to His Majesty the Fourth King who presented HRH The Gyalsey to His Holiness The Je Khenpo. The Je Khenpo in turn uttered some prayers and appeared to bless HRH The Gyalsey.
Then three generations of the Wangchuck Dynasty in His Majesty the King, His Majesty the Fourth King and HRH The Gyalsey headed for the Machhen along with The Je Khenpo, where they spent around half an hour before coming back.
A hushed silence fell when His Majesty The King took the stand to share HRH The Gyalsey’s name.
His Majesty said, “All the people of our country were joyously united in offering prayers when our son was born in February this year. I express my appreciation to all the people of twenty dzongkhags for your prayers, support and love, and wish you Tashi Delek on the auspicious occasion of Zhabdrung Kuchoe.”
His Majesty said that never before has there been a time when the Royal Grandfather, Father and Son of the Wangchuck Dynasty came together at the same time to offer prayers in the sacred temple of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. “This has come to signify a most fortunate event on a most auspicious day,” His Majesty said.
His Majesty reminded that the Gyalsey is not just the prince of the King and Gyaltsuen, but a son to all the Bhutanese people.
His Majesty said, “After profound contemplation, he has been named Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck in the sacred Machhen Lhakhang.
“Jigme means fearless. It symbolizes great courage to overcome any challenge that he may confront in future as he serves our country.”
“Namgyel means victorious in all directions and victory over all obstacles. It is a name taken from the revered Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, who enabled the Dharma to flourish in all directions as prophesied by Guru Rinpoche.”
“Wangchuck is the name of the royal lineage and dynasty.”
The crowds waiting outside clapped and cheered the name and its significance.
His Majesty then said that when the time comes for Gyalsey Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck to serve his country, he must always place the concerns of his country above all else and serve his people justly with great love and dedication. “It will be his sacred responsibility to build a harmonious and just society, and thereby, fulfill all the aspirations of his people.”
His Majesty said HRH The Gyalsey must live such a life as a good human being and serve his country in a manner that it will be exemplary and worthy of emulation. His Majesty said HRH The Gyalsey will also have the responsibility to preserve and foster the legacies and teachings of Guru Rinpoche and Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel.
In another touching moment His Majesty said, “My heartfelt prayers and aspirations are that during his reign, our people will be able to enjoy even greater peace, security, prosperity and happiness than they have in the past. I thank all the people of the twenty dzongkhags for your continued support, loyalty and dedication.”
The announcement was followed by Tokha and cultural programs outside the Dzong.