What makes us Bhutanese

Among others, I believe, it’s our deepest gratitude and love for our kings that makes us who we are. It’s that special bond between our kings and our people that sets us apart from other countries.

As November 11, the 60th Birthday of our beloved Drukgyal Zhipa, approaches, we can feel the excitement of our people everywhere. Almost every Bhutanese individual and organization is doing something special to celebrate the life and blessings of Drukgyal Zhipa. Throughout the country, in all 20 Dzongkhags, schools, villages and government organizations are organizing special programs of prayers and entertainment. And our government has just launched the first helicopter service in the country.

His Holiness the Je Khenpo has written an inspiring Zhabten prayer for Drukgyal Zhipa. Within the year, in honor of His Majesty’s 60th Birth Anniversary, we saw the creation and consecration of many Thongdrols of Guru Rinpoche, Zhabdrung, Desi Tenzin Rabgay and others. We also saw the construction and consecration of temples, monasteries and chortens throughout the country. Sacred monasteries and temples, Dratsangs, Goendeys, Shedras, Hindu temples and Pundits, Lams, Tulkus, monks, and nuns are conducting prayers, Wangs, butter lamp and Tshog offerings in all 20 Dzongkhags.

The extraordinary talent and creativity of our people is in full display. All over Thimphu, we see beautiful sculptures of auspicious Buddhist symbols and hand-carved traditional gates being built. Some of the most remarkable paintings of His Majesty’s portraits are being created and many soul-stirring songs of people’s love for His Majesty are being composed. Many Bhutanese writers and organizations have published books on His Majesty’s life and leadership. A few months earlier, in honor of His Majesty’s 60th Birth Anniversary, Mountain Echoes organized a grand festival of literature, art and culture, bringing together great writers, thinkers, artists, and youth from both within and outside the country. And right now, an international conference on Gross National Happiness (GNH) is going on.

It is amazing to see how love inspires ordinary people to achieve extraordinary things. It gives them the courage to dream and go beyond what is normally possible. Look at the construction of the world’s largest statues of Buddha in Thimphu and Guru Rinpoche in Lhuntse, both dedicated to the 60th Birth Anniversary of Drukgyal Zhipa. These historic projects

have been conceptualized and executed by two unassuming Khenpos who had no resources and prior experience of undertaking projects of such magnitude. All they had was their selfless compassion and love for our Tsa-Wa-Sum (King, Nation, and People) and other sentient beings. These projects will bring immense benefit to our nation and our people for generations and generations to come. Beside their contribution to our spiritual and cultural heritage, they will bring huge economic benefit, as they become great centers of tourist attraction.

And then look at how, under the leadership of Gyalyum Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk, we set the Guinness World Record—our first ever—by planting most trees within an hour. This is an expression of our deepest respect and gratitude for His Majesty’s farsighted leadership in protecting our nature and environment. And Her Majesty recently consecrated the Jigme Singye Wangchuk Pillar and Constitution Kuthangs symbolizing GNH and Democracy—two priceless gifts from Drukgyal Zhipa to the Bhutanese people.

I believe many other special projects and initiatives are getting ready to be launched on November 11 and beyond. Among others, I believe a magnificent botanical garden is being created in Dochula. A huge butter lamp in the center of the garden will be kept lit 24/7, symbolizing our eternal love and gratitude for Drukgyal Zhipa.

These are just a few examples. Almost every day a special project or a special event is being launched or consecrated by the Government, monastic body, private organizations and individuals. Social media pages of Bhutanese people are flooded with messages of love and gratitude to Drukgyal Zhipa.

But we can never thank Drukgyal Zhipa enough. Bhutan is what it is today because of His Majesty’s enlightened leadership and selfless compassion. All the blessings in every Bhutanese citizen’s life—the fresh air we breathe, the clean water we drink, the peace and security we enjoy, free healthcare and education, beautiful nature and caring society, the great development philosophy of GNH and democracy—are precious gifts from Drukgyal Zhipa.

On November 11, the whole nation will come together to celebrate the love and blessings of Drukgyal Zhipa. Most of us will have difficulty hiding our tears of joy and gratitude—proud of being a Bhutanese and living at the time of such a great leader; a leader who has given his all to his nation and his people. This will be a great time for us to pause and reflect on our past, present and the future—and look at how each and every one of us can contribute to build the nation of Drukgyal Zhipa’s great vision.

Opinion by  Sonam  Jatso

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