His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen spent three days in Sakteng, arriving from Merak on the evening of the 27th May.
Their Majesties trekked from Merak to Sakteng over the ancient route connecting the two famous villages, over the dreaded Nyakchungla pass, 4,200 meters above sea level.
Having also spent three days in Merak, Their Majesties were seen off by the people who lined up along the trail leading away from their village. As Their Majesties began the strenuous uphill walk to the pass, the villagers sang soulful alo, the song of farewell to loved ones.
Their Majesties were received with tremendous joy in Sakteng, with song and dance, despite the torrential rain.
On 28th May, His Majesty met the people of Sakteng at the ceremonial ground, and spent the entire day among them.
Addressing the people, His Majesty shared concerns about the younger generation leaving villages like Merak and Sakteng, which could lead to the possibility of the very valuable and unique cultural heritage disappearing. The solution to this would be to improve the lives of the people in these villages and to ensure that continuing to live here would still be an attractive prospect, His Majesty said.
His Majesty asked the people to share their concerns, and said that their biggest Kidu, relating to khimsa and tsamdro would be given priority.
His Majesty also reminded the people that they have the responsibility of not only protecting their rich heritage, but also the sovereignty and security of the country.
His Majesty granted tokha and lucky draw soelras.
Students and the public presented a cultural programme for Their Majesties, which included the famous Yak Cham and Ache Lhamo Cham.
Their Majesties visited the Yulju Lhakhang and offered prayers. The people of Sakteng offered Ku Sung Thugten Mendrel to Their Majesties at the Lhakhang. Their Majesties then visited homes in Borangtse village of Sakteng.
The people enjoyed movies screened at the gewog hall in the evening.
On 29th May, the people gathered once again at the ceremonial ground to offer buelwa in honour of Their Majesties’ visit to Sakteng.
His Majesty thanked the people for their offering, and returned the animals to the community. The people enjoyed the beautiful day with song and dance, together with their King and Queen.
His Majesty visited Sakteng Lower Secondary School, and granted Audiences to the students and teachers.
Their Majesties visited lhakhangs, and the homes of the people of Sakteng in the evening.
Their Majesties are accompanied by His Royal Highness Gyaltshab Jigme Dorji Wangchuck.
His Majesty’s Kidu Mobile Medical Unit treated 478 people in Merak and 571 people in Sakteng. The Unit set up camps in both villages, and offered various check-ups and performed surgeries.
Earlier on May 24th 2015 the mood in Merak was of jubilation, as the village that sits huddled between breathtaking pasturelands at an altitude over 3500 meters high, hosted their King and Queen.
His Majesty The King, accompanied by Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen, arrived here on the evening of 24th May, having travelled for more than 10 hours from Dewathang, meeting people from the region who had lined up along the highway to greet Their Majesties.
The people of Merak, striking in their red jackets of sheep wool and distinct black hats, welcomed Their Majesties in their unique tradition, and with uninhibited joy.
Their Majesties were escorted by the entire village to the guest house, which is surrounded by the stone and mud houses of the villagers.
The villagers were then treated to a movie screened on a makeshift projector in the grounds of Merak’s Primary School. His Majesty visited the ground, and promised to spend more time meeting the people in the next two days.
As people made their surefooted way back to their houses in the village, a babble of voices and laughter drifted along with the mist, their excitement at the prospect of having Their Majesties with them for the next two days, apparent.
On 25th May, Their Majesties visited and offered prayers at Merak Lhakhang, and then walked across the houses to the school ground, where the entire village had gathered once again.
Addressing the people, His Majesty spoke about the importance of traditions in safeguarding a nation’s sovereignty, and reminded them to protect their unique cultural heritage, and play their part in upholding our national security.
His Majesty also advised the people to give their fullest support for their children’s education.
“I am aware of your greatest troubles, and that it has to do with khimsa and tsamdro, and I will ensure that these shall be resolved in time,” His Majesty said to the people.
Their Majesties spent the entire day with the people. His Majesty granted a public tokha, and the people participated in a Soelra lottery game, with useful prizes like greenhouses and power-chain saws.
In the evening, Their Majesties walked down to Gengu village, downhill from Merak, and visited the Lhakhang and homes of the people.
Students were shown a movie especially for them in the gewog hall.
On 26th May, His Majesty granted an Audience to the students and teachers of Merak Primary School.
For the students, His Majesty had many questions about their daily life and whatever may trouble them, which they answered with enthusiasm.
His Majesty advised the children to study hard, and make the best use of their knowledge. His Majesty granted jackets, geometry sets, and books as Soelra to the children.
The people offered yak, sheep, horses and dogs as buelwa offering to Their Majesties, in honour of Their Majesties’ visit to their village. His Majesty expressed appreciation to the people for the offering, and returned the animals to the community.
His Majesty granted lunch to the villagers, and then visited homes in Merak.
“We don’t travel outside the village too much, and I never thought I’d ever see Their Majesties in person in my lifetime. I feel truly blessed by Their Majesties presence,” said Phurpa Yangzom, who herds yaks in Merak, summing up the sentiments of the entire village.
Their Majesties will visit Sakteng tomorrow, accessible through a high mountain pass, which will take about 8 hours by foot from Merak.
Meanwhile, His Majesty’s Kidu Mobile Medical Unit set up a medical camp at the village BHU, and offered medical check-ups and performed minor surgeries.