There is much excitement in the air as Bhutan gears up to celebrate the biggest event of the year, the 112th National Day. His Majesty The King will address the nation from the Changlimithang Stadium, Thimphu this year. People from all walks of life are eager to hear the Royal Address and to celebrate the day across Bhutan. There is almost an electric buzz of anticipation.
There are expectations of a grand celebration, and also the biggest National Day celebration till date, among the people in Thimphu and those coming in from other Dzongkhags. They say that they don’t want to miss out on the honor and privilege of witnessing a once in a lifetime event.
The Home and Cultural Affairs Minister, Lyonpo Sherab Gyeltshen, who is the Chairperson of the National Day Coordination Committee, shared that the day affords the Bhutanese people with the opportunity to recall and pay tribute to the selfless Monarchs and the forefathers for their tremendous sacrifice, hard work, and determination to secure the hopes and aspirations of the people and country.
“It is also an occasion to reflect on the challenges and opportunities we face, as a nation, and to reaffirm our faith and commitment to the Tsa-Wa-Sum as we endeavor to build an even more secure, prosperous and happy nation under the farsighted and dynamic leadership of His Majesty The King,” he added.
Thimphu, being the capital city, has the biggest space to accommodate a large crowd, and therefore, the celebration is going to be the biggest and the most memorable one, Lyonpo said, adding that there will be more than 1,700 people taking part in the parade, itself, this year.
He said that all the programs for the 112th National Day will cover the history of the Wangchuck Dynasty and preservation of culture, and it will invoke a sense of patriotism in all.
Lyonpo also said new additional programs, which are different and unique from the past years, will be performed on the day. A theme song and talk shows will be broadcast on BBS TV and radio leading to the National Day.
“More exciting is that there will be a photo exhibition on the Wangchuck Dynasty from the past which we have never seen. There will also be a screening of a documentary movie on the Wangchuk Dynasty and history,” Lyonpo added.
In addition, there will be live preparation of Bhutanese food by the representatives from 20 dzongkhags, live demonstration of arts and craft, construction of ramp wall, and many more which is related to the Bhutanese culture. The build-up program will be inaugurated on 15 December at Centenary and Coronation Park, Changlimithang. Old dzong models will be displayed in the park, including a mini-Dochula. On 17 December, people will get to witness something different from the past years- a laser show. Lyonpo said that on the evening of 17 December, laser lights showing images of the Monarchs with the narration will be made to the public. The laser show will be displayed on the mountain at the back of pavilion in Changlimithang.
The younger generations will get see yaks brought from the highlands up close, and they can ride on the yaks as well, he said.
During the celebration, Lyonpo said that apart from other normal cultural program, there will be few different items, whereby the participants will inform people on the meaning of the Raven Crown, hands that build the nation, mascot and colours of Bhutan, through the cultural programs.
“Through this cultural program, I hope we can make the people understand our own history, meaning of existence of Bhutan, and importance of our spirituality. We want to make them feel fortunate and different,” he said.
People should know what the National Day actually is, Lyonpo added. It is a day to express our deepest gratitude to the most important benefactor and guardian, His Majesty The King, who works tirelessly and with unwavering commitment for the well being of the people and the country.
LCD screens are being installed in different locations for the people to watch outside the stadium. Trozey bags (goody bags) containing refreshment and soelra lottery tickets will be distributed to the public in the stadium. The soelra will include exciting digital gadgets.
Meanwhile, 83-year-old Damchoe Dema said that although she is too old to move around, even for circumambulation, however, she said, “I will be going to Changlimithang to pay my respects to the great Monarchs and Their Majesties on the National Day. This is the least I can do to show my gratitude,” she said.
She shared that this might very well be her last chance to witness such a big event in the presence of His Majesty The King and the Royal Family. She said that she feels very excited when people talk about the big day, and to see people practice the dances with so much joy in them.
27-year-old Dorji said that his dependence on the wheelchair to move around wouldn’t prevent him from witnessing the biggest event in the country. “I want to go, not because disabled people like me are given easy access to the stadium, but because I want to be part of it and join the nation in the celebrations,” he added.
“His Majesty The King did a lot for us,” Dorji said, adding that he wants to be a part of the day to show his gratitude towards His Majesty and the forefathers.
He said, “I want to contribute to the nation but I am helpless. Therefore, I can just sit and witness the celebration, which I think is a small contribution from my side. I am excited to hear what His Majesty has to say, like in every National Day. So I am waiting for the big day.”
A 54-year-old civil servant, Kado, said this year is probably going to see the biggest National Day celebrations ever, just by looking at the level of preparations. He said it is something unique from the past celebrations.
“Listening to the people around, the programs are going to be different and the preparation at Centenary Park, itself, indicates that it is going to be really different, with building up of models of dzongs in the country, etc.,” he added.
He said he heard from people that His Majesty The King is going to make a big important announcement to the whole nation, for which he is super excited. He said, “Whatever maybe the announcement, His Majesty would do it for the people and for the country. For that matter, it brings us lots of happiness. I just can’t wait for the big day.”
A private sector employee, Pema, said she is very excited about the big National Day, so much so that she and her family are planning to line up at the entrance of the Changlimithang stadium at around 3 am. She said, “No matter what, we want to be inside the stadium, otherwise it would be regretful. We want to be part of it because we have heard that this is going to be the biggest celebration in the country and there could be some major announcements.”
Free transportation (including 60 taxis) will be provided for the public during the celebration. The bus services will start from 4 am to 9 am. The bus services will be all over; Motithang, Jungshina, Pamtsho, Olakha, Changjiji, Babesa via Luntenphu, Babesa via Expressway, Dechencholing, RCSC parking, Banquet Hall parking, old truck parking near flyover bridge, Chamgang, Hongtsho, Jemina, Sisina, Begana and Kabesa.
Chang Lam will remain closed to the traffic from 10 pm on 16 December to 10 pm on 17 December. The public on the move from upper Motithang, Hejo, Jungshina, Bebina and Pamtsho area are requested to park their vehicles at the RCSC parking.
Likewise, the public coming from Kabisa, Dechencholing, Taba, Langjophakha areas are to park their vehicles in the Gyelyong Tshongkhang parking. Public from South Thimphu, Changbangdu, Changzamtog and Gidaphu are to park their vehicles in MLCP 2. Public coming in from Motithang and Changangkha are requested to park their cars in MLCP 1.
Vehicles with identification stickers for participants shall be parked in the Lungtenzampa MSS parking after the drop off at Changlimithang. Public coming in from Lungtenphu, Semtokha and Olakha are asked to park their cars in the RSTA parking.
The free transportation services will end after performing three trips after the program for inter city route and for outskirt routes; the buses will make only one trip.
The participants, Dessups, and armed forces are in full swing to make the day a big success. Different agencies who are given responsibilities are also busy with the preparations.
As the day nears to the 112th National Day, the stadium and Thimphu city are already starting to look colorful.