Bhutan gets new King in grand coronation ceremony

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Thimphu, Nov 6: In an elaborate sacred ceremony marked with chanting of sacred Buddhist sutras, religious music and traditional dance, Oxford-educated and Indian-trained Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck was today coronated as the fifth King of Bhutan.

The 28-year-old Namgyel Wangchuck was handed over the Raven Crown by his father and fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck at the religious ceremony to emerge as the youngest reigning monarch of the world's youngest democracy. The deeply spiritual, richly traditional, and shrouded in sacred mystical truths coronation ceremony was performed at the Chamber of the Golden Throne at Taschichho Dzon to convey the ultimate empowerment of the Dharma King.

The ceremony conducted by the Chief Abbot or Je Khenpo Truklu Jigme Choeda included handing over precious objects, auspicious elements and recitation of Buddhist sutras meant to bestow the new monarch with wisdom, compassion, long life, valour and empower him with the virtue of fame and give fortitude to face challenges that may arise for the new democracy.

It would also Enable him to promote the Gross National Happiness, which is the basic philosophy of the country, and provide security to the people and strengthen the democracy as the Constitutional head of the state.

Indian President Pratibha Devisingh Patil was the Chief Guest at the coronation ceremony, which was attended by UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, her Children Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra and her husband Robert Vadra. They were the only few dignitaries who were allowed to witness the event at the Golden Throne Chamber along with the royal family Members and Bhutanese Prime Minister Jigme Y Thinley.

Ms Gandhi, a close personal friend of the royal family, was warmly greeted by the four Queens and other members of the royality.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Foreign Secretary Shiv Shanker Menon are also in the Indian delegation indicating close relationship that India and Bhutan share.

Foreign dignitaries, including Ambassadors of 32 countries and mediapersons, who had converged at the Kingdom of the Dragon Thunder to witness the historic event, witnessed the glittering religious procession and music by Bhuddhist Monks and traditional dance by men and women dressed in colourful clothes and headgears which proceeded the actual coronation ceremony.

Dumba, a special lamb with a third horn over its nose, was also part of the colourful procession, as it was considered to provide wisdom and good luck to the new monarch. The secret religious ceremony at the Throne Room was filmed by an unmanned camera and telecast live for the Entire World to witness it. Apart from limited space, the secrecy had been maintained, as the process involved a lot of symbolism and rituals, which should not be distracted by the movement of people and camera.

The ceremony commenced with the recitation of the Coronation Sutras and handing over the Raven Crown by the forth King to his son, who then ascended to the Supreme Golden Throne. The Chief Abbot then started the elaborate religious rituals beginning with the Zhug-drel Phuensum Tshogpi ceremony meant to celebrate harmonious fruition.

This was followed by handing over symbols of Mendrey and objects of Ku, Soong, Thuk, Yonten and Thrinley (body, speech, mind, Qualities and deeds) on behalf of the Dratshang, Royal government and the people of Bhutan.

The Universal emperor was then handed over seven precious objects -- the Wheel of Dharma, elephant of fortitude, Horse of swiftness, jewel of fulfillment, queen of devotion, minister of wisdom and the general of Valour -- by the Chief Abbot. They are meant to inculcate these qualities among the new monarch. Then new King was then offered Tashi Zegye or eight auspicious elements, including incense, fruit, curd, medicine, mirror, conch shell, vermillion and yellow mustard.

The Tashi Ngasoel ceremony concluded with the recitation of Moenlam Drubgyal and Deshey Toenpa.

He was also felicitated by his father, Je Khenpo, Indian President and his mother, grandmother and other members of the royal family.

The three-day formal coronation ceremony marked the formalisation of abdication by the fourth King, who had left the throne in December 2006, paving way for his son to ascend the Golden Throne. The coronation was delayed as Bhutan, which is a highly religious society, awaited the most auspicious day for the new King to ascend the throne. Meantime, he got trained from his father in administration matters.

Bhutan is also celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Wangchuck dynasty which is very popular among the people, who consider their King to be a protector and unifying force for the country. Thimphu is wearing a festive look with flags and banners decorating the steets. People, dressed in traditional clothes, came from all over the country to witness their beloved King's coronation. A weeklong holiday has been declared by the government for the people to celebrate the biggest moment of their life.

Though Bhutan has adopted a democratic system of governance this year. The King plays a crucial role as the Constitutional Head and would lead the country' s gradual emergence into the modern world.

Earlier, on November 1, the new King had received the Dar Na Nga, which is an arrangement of silk scarves in the five primary colours, representing the five elements. It is a direct empowerment from the Zhabdrung himself and preserved in the Machhen Chhorten, which holds the Kudung (physical relics) of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. It is returned to the Machhen Lhakhang in a chipdrel procession after the empowerment ceremony of the Kings.

The new emperor, who is highly qualified, having received education in the US and Oxford and being trained in India, is extremely popular, not only among the members of the royal family, but also among the people residing in remote areas, whose lives he has touched through various philanthropic gestures. All his nine brothers and sisters, four Mothers, grand mother and other members of the extended royal family participated enthusiastically in the ceremony.

He would act as the Constitutional head in the new democratic set up and would work to ensure unity and security of the country. He is the most potent unifying and moral force in the country, through whom the people enjoy a sense of security and on whom, they place their hope, as he serves as the emotional anchor.

The King is expected to be a force to ensure long-term sustanence of democracy in the county as the people's King.

The fifth King is perhaps the most eligible bachelor King of the South Asia. He is being described as compassionate and very gracious who share good qualities of his father, following which the people of Bhutan are celebrating the occasion with joy and excitement.

UNI

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