On the evening of 19th May 2017, I was invited to join a team of staff from the Disabled Persons’ Association of Bhutan (DPAB) to go to Wangdue Phodrang for a disability awareness program which was to be held over the weekends. The cool Friday evening breeze rejuvenated us as we eased our way through the mountains and valleys towards Wangdue Phodrang. It was about 8 o’clock in the evening when we reached the ancestral home of Sonam Deki, our team leader. We were to stay in this house until Sunday.
The conferral of Red Scarf and Patag (sword) by His Majesty the King is a unique Bhutanese tradition of honoring and recognizing individuals for their most dedicated service to the nation. Only those who prove to be the best among the best (Dasho) in terms of their contributions to the country are privileged to receive the red scarf from His Majesty the King. The color of the scarf itself is associated with Buddhism as it resembles the robe worn by Lord Buddha and hence, it carries both spiritual and cultural values. As His Majesty the King has said while conferring red scarf to Dasho Karma Tshiteem, the Chairperson of RCSC during the National Day celebration last year, red scarf symbolizes the compassion of Buddha with which its wearer serves the society and the Patag represents strength with which its wearer protects the nation forever. It is a sacred symbol of honor and recognition. But although both red scarf and Patag are part of the regalia that symbolize recognition, they are slightly different when it comes to their actual significance. This would explain why some retired officials are still seen wearing their red scarf while their Patags have disappeared.
“We had the first-hand experience of flying through the cyclone today and I hope you might have enjoyed it” the pilot announced as soon as we touched down at Chennai International Airport, probably in an effort to comfort the worried passengers. We all burst into laughter when the pilot made that announcement. The weather conditions in Chennai on Sunday, 15th November 2015 were really wild with heavy rains and strong cyclone. We took off from Bakdokra at 4:30 pm and after a short stop at Kolkata, we continued to Chennai in the same flight. But as we approached Chennai International Airport, the aircraft began to tremble wildly as we flew through the oncoming cyclone and heavy rains that had been flooding Chennai and the neighboring areas over the past five days or so. As the pilot announced, it was really a scary and dangerous flight. I had never been nervous and anxious like that before. I kept on praying as the aircraft struggled to cut its way through such a strong and wild rainstorm. But due to God’s grace and the kind wishes of our friends, we could safely land at Chennai at around 8:30 pm as scheduled.
With early sunlight flourishing over the hills and valleys and birds in the surrounding forests singing to the rhythm of cool breeze blowing over the trees and bushes, today is definitely a special day for Bhutan. Coinciding with the anniversary of the coronation of His Majesty the 4th King and Social Forestry Day, Bhutan has created another new page in history. With blessings from God on this auspicious occasion of Saga Dawai Duezang (Parinirvana of Lord Buddha), 100 Bhutanese volunteers have planted 49,672 tree-saplings in one hour and set a new Guinness World Record for Bhutan.
In a world of despots and dictators, it sounds like a fairy-tale that our beloved monarchs have ruled and guided us for years like their own children. Starting from the very day when the institution of monarchy was established in Bhutan, the sun of peace has shone over us and we have been blest with absolute harmony and prosperity throughout the golden reigns of five heriditary monarchs till today. We have always been governed with great love and compassion and we have really been proud of being blest with such divine rulers. It’s obvious that something is special about our kings. The following five reasons would justify why our monarchs are considered spiritual kings or Dharma Rajas who are always guided by Buddhist philosophies and principles. It’s this specialty that makes our kings different from tyrannous dictators who have ruled other nations for centuries.
On the lap of great Himalayas lies
Heavenly Drukyul with a magical charm in her eyes,
And on her shimmering face I can clearly see
A rich history interwoven with immense glee.
Let me now back into her past dive
And find out what has kept her so far alive!
O with great pride here she says
How could she survive throughout those crucial days: —