Prez, Sonia receive grand welcome at Coronation ceremony

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Thimphu, Nov 6 (UNI) The warmth of friendship, closeness of hearts and shared historic and cultural ties between India and Bhutan was evident today at the Coronation ceremony of the fifth King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck with President Pratibha Devisingh Patil being the chief guest and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi receiving hugs from the King and other members of royal family.

Sonia Gandhi along with her son and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, daughter Priyanka and son in law Robert Vadra has come here to attend the coronation ceremony as friend of the royal family, while the official Indian delegation, led by the President, consisted of External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon and other senior officials.

Though the Coronation ceremony, involving sacred rituals and mystical symbolism, was open to only members of the royal families, the Indian President and UPA Chairperson and her family were among those few who have been especially invited for the historic event in the Himalayan kingdom.

Sonia, who was initially taken to the Golden Throne Chamber, came outside to be with the members of the royal family, waiting in the courtyard of the Tashichho Dzong to receive the fourth king and the new king who were coming in a colourful procession of Buddhist monks, traditional singers and dancers, decked up in beautiful dresses and headgear.

Seeing Sonia, all the four queens of the fourth King hugged her and insisted that she and her children should stand in front along with them.

Priyanka also joined the royal family and was seen enjoying the cultural programme standing between her husband Robert Vadra and brother Rahul Gandhi. They were all mesmerized by the beautiful surrounding and religious fervor of the people of Bhutan, who were celebrating the three-day coronation celebration on a grand scale.

As soon as the royal procession arrived, the new king greeted Sonia by hugging her to express his happiness and enthusiasm. The warmth of the longstanding friendship between the royal family of Bhutan and Nehru-Gandhi family, which started with the visit of former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to the Himalayan nation in 1958, brought smile to all in a winter morning.

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