The stories of the old, handicapped and daily wage earners who came for the 111th National Day celebration

The otherwise quiet and monotonous life in Samtse burst into relentless smiles, laughter, excitement and inexplicable sense of patriotism during the 111th National Day celebration on 17 December.

The people were deeply overwhelmed with the sheer presence of His Majesty The Fourth King, His Majesty The King, His Royal Highness The Gyalsey, His Holiness Trulku Jigme Chhoedra and all the members of the Royal family. According to the locals, His Royal Highness the Gyalsey, the way in which he bowed before his grandfather, overwhelmed the public witnessing the act and further gave the crowd a blessed sight to cherish for life.

Samtse Dzongkhag also won praises for the well-planned display of events and grand celebration at the Samtse public ground with events which was of its kind in the country. People had to wait in a very long queue to get to the ground even if some people started coming as early as 12 in the midnight. The ground was fully occupied by 5 am. Almost half the public had to make do with the live telecast on the LCD placed outside the ground.

“We are not disheartened that we did not get inside the ground, the screen outside is as good as watching the events in person”, some of the people shared.

The event also helped and impressed the businesses in Samtse which witnessed a massive influx of local tourist from across the country. A restaurateur said that she had to send some of the customers back due to accommodation issues.

Talking to a 75-year-old Bal Bahadur Gurung from Samtse, he said he mostly watched national day events on television as he couldn’t afford traveling around the country.

“This year as Samtse hosted the national day, I felt blessed, happy and peace because I got the chance to witness the event in person for the first time in my life. I was in the queue since 2 in the morning and I could get inside only at 4 am,” he added.

To have witnessed the chopper shower flowers all over the people- hoisting the national flag along, that for him, he said was very overwhelming and a touching display of nationalism in the air.

Bal Bahadur said that he couldn’t hold back his emotions and he took the flowers strewn all over the place from above to be a good omen, whereby he walked around the whole day with a flower pasted on his forehead. I’ll keep this particular flower in my purse for life, added Bal Bahadur.

Pabitra Ghallay, a 24-year-old woman said that she came from Sipsu to watch the events and the ground was full by the time they reached. “We were excited because we did not witness any national day event in the past. My parents have never seen their Majesties in person and we came all the way to grab the opportunity. We are satisfied and happy now.”

She also said that they have never seen a chopper fly. “It was exciting to see the chopper in the first place. But it was a heart touching moment when we were showered with flowers from the sky.” Taking it to be a good omen, she said she tried to get hold of a flower at least.

“All the programs were wonderful and overwhelming, especially the program on Thuen-Pa-Puen-Zhi and synchronized drill,” she added.

Dil Kumar, a 50-year-old physically handicapped man, who was accompanied by his wife and came all the way from Pasakha, Phuentsholing to witness the events in person said that they came from Pasakha on 16 December and after sleeping for just for two hours outside the Hindu temple, they stood in queue since 12 in the midnight.

“It is my first time watching the national day event in person and I’m delighted. I feel lucky to have got a glimpse of their Majesties in person and Gyalsey. I do not regret having come all the way to Samtse because I feel that my dream is now fulfilled”, he added.

His wife Bimla Rai said that she works in a beer factory in Pasakha whereby she took leave for the day to attend the event. “I did not want to miss the opportunity. My job is important and I am the sole bread earner in the family but my Kings are more important. I was excited to get a glimpse of Their Majesties and now I am satisfied as well”, she said.

A 55-year-old Kinley Namgay said that they traveled all the way from Phuentsholing. “On this auspicious day, we had a different kind of feeling with favorable weather. I never felt this way before where my mind is at complete peace”, he added.

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