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The Fifth king of Bhutan
The world witnessed a historical phenomenon on November 6 when the fourth Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, offered the Raven Crown to His
Majesty the King, Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck. For the Bhutanese people it was an overwhelming moment when the past, present, and future merged.
The sacred moment took place in the chamber of the Golden Throne in Tashichhodzong, witnessed by several generations of the Bhutanese royal family, leaders of all branches of the government and security forces, and special guests that included Indian President, Pratibha Devi Singh Patil, the Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, and her son and daughter, Rahul and Priyanka.
The crowning ceremony included the offerings of the symbols of body, speech, and mind by the clergy, government, judiciary, legislature, and the military. His Holiness the Je Khenpo also offered to His Majesty the empowerment of the Universal Emperor – the symbols of dharma, fortitude, swiftness, fulfillment, devotion, wisdom, and valour.
His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo, His Holiness the Je Khenpo, and the dignitaries offered the Thridar (auspicious scarves conveying good wishes) to His Majesty. His Majesty the King received the Thridar from trulkus and lams and Hindu priests and diplomatic representatives from more than 30 countries in the Kuenra (congregation hall) of the Zhung Dratshang (central monk body) and then from thousands of people, who had come from all parts of the country, in the Tendrel Thang outside the Dzong.
On November 1, in Punakha Dzong, His Majesty the King received the sacred empowerment of the five elements from Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. The crowning ceremony in Thimphu symbolizes the personification of His Majesty as Jarog Dongchhen, one of the three powerful protector deities of Bhutan, the other two manifestations being Yeshey Goembo and Pelden Lhamo. Jarog Dongchhen, who is depicted with a raven head, is the compassionate and terrifying figure whose wrath can demolish negativity that are obstacles on the path to enlightenment.
The figure of the Supreme Warrior vests in the Druk Gyalpo the mandate to protect the nation and to ensure unity and harmony among the people.
The Raven Crown – and the Bhutanese Monarchy – are symbols of the country’s rich mythological history, dating back to the 17th century. It is believed that Mahakala took the form of a raven to guide Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to Bhutan. Assuming the form of Jarog Dongchhen, with a raven head, Mahakala helped the Zhabdrung overcome daunting challenges both within and from outside the country as he built the Bhutanese polity.
In 1885 Jigme Namgyel first wore the Raven Crown, designed by Lam Jangchub Tsundru from Tsang Yengoen in Tibet. Every King of the Wangchuck dynasty has then been enthroned with the Raven Crown. With the crowning of the fifth Druk Gyalpo, therefore, Bhutan’s past and present converges to forge a path for the future.
This royal transition symbolizes the unique transformation of a national polity and faith in a new leadership. Bhutan is celebrating this change. Bhutan is also celebrating stability and continuity through change.
The Coronation celebrations this past week conveyed the strong message that the strength of the Bhutanese system is drawn from the fidelity between the Monarch and the people. This bond grew stronger than ever as His Majesty the King chose to be with the people on his Coronation.
In his Coronation address His Majesty the King described the qualities of a good human being as “honesty, kindness, charity, integrity, unity, respect for our culture and traditions, love for our country and for God”. He himself personified these qualities this week, being happiest when he is with innocent young children, with people in Buddhist practice, and people from all parts of the country, from all walks of life.
Thousands of foreign nationals who attended the Coronation were unanimous in their view that the King of Bhutan is at home with his people.
“I look at the Bhutanese people today and I see that everyone is so joyful about the ceremony,” said the Japanese ambassador, Mr Hideaki Domichi. “We hope that this joy, prosperity, and peace continue. We are very pleased to be a part of the event and we would like to congratulate Bhutan for the coronation of the King and the smooth transition to democracy. Our support and cooperation will continue.”
Nepal’s Ambassador, Dr Durgesh Man Singh, said that it was rare to witness such a great auspicious occasion. “I am glad I was a part of the event that symbolises unity and spirit among the people,” he told Kuensel. “Being unique in its own ways, Bhutan enjoys its own unique system and people have pride and respect, especially for the Monarchs. The most important thing for a country is that the people are happy and I see that in Bhutan.”
The Thai ambassador, Mr Chirasak Thanesnant, said that all the people of Thailand loved His Majesty, who had visited Thailand during the 60th anniversary of King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s ascension to the Throne. “We also hold our Monarchy in high regard,” he said. “We, the people of Thailand, join the Bhutanese in wishing His Majesty happiness, prosperity and good health on this day.
Denmark’s ambassador, Mrs Ole Lonsmann Poulsen, described the Coronation as “a wonderful experience”. “In Denmark we have a Monarchy also and the Queen is an extremely respected person in the society. Most of all, the Coronation is being celebrated not only by a few but involving the whole people which is really amazing. I appreciate the people, who are more into quality of life than wealth, and it is one thing which many developed countries couldn’t achieve.”
The Chinese ambassador to India, Mr Zhang Yan, said that it was a lifetime opportunity for him to be a part of the historic event. “The immense joy and happiness expressed by the people of Bhutan to mark the occasion is remarkable,” he said. “My presence, representing the Chinese government, during the coronation is a testimony that Bhutan and China share good bilateral relations.”
The American ambassador to India, Mr David Mulford, said that the Coronation ceremony was something he would remember for the rest of his life. “I bring the greetings of the American people, President Bush, President elect Obama and we are deeply impressed by the democratisation process, which has been going on for a long time.
Guest of honour, President Pratibha Patil said that the enthusiasm, with which the people of Bhutan have participated, reflects their respect and reverence for the Monarchy. “It’s not often that a father has the opportunity to confer his blessings on a son in the manner I witnessed at the Coronation,” said the president.
“With democratic elections earlier this year, His Majesty the Fourth King has ushered in democracy in Bhutan, reposing his faith and trust in his people to continue Bhutan on its path of peace, progress and prosperity. A new youthful generation will now guide Bhutan towards a brilliant future under the able leadership of the young King.”
President Pratibha described this year as a historic year with the Coronation of His Majesty, the celebration of the centenary of the Wangchuck dynasty and the establishment of a democratically elected government, which by coincidence was the golden jubilee of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru’s visit to Bhutan in 1958.
The president has invited His Majesty to visit India at His Majesty’s earliest convenience.