Wednesday, 21 December 2016

National Identity and Unity: The Beauty of Small Bhutan

With a size equivalent to renowned Switzerland, Bhutan is also compared to Switzerland when it comes to landscape beauty and natural aestheticism. Besides the beautiful mountains, Switzerland and Bhutan have one thing in common: Happiness. Switzerland ranks top in the World Happiness Report and Bhutan is by far a country of happy people. Being world’s leading economy with highest nominal per capita, Switzerland’s Happiness is attributed to their developed status of the country.  Switzerland has population of over 8 million people. Bhutan is a least developed country with a meagre population of 0.8 million. Being comparable to developed world when it comes to Happiness gives us a pride and humility as a Bhutanese. As such the beauty of Bhutan lies not only in its serene forests and pristine mountains. It indeed lies in its unity as a nation with common goals and aspirations.

The value of unity in Bhutan is deep. We Bhutanese believe in the karmic actions and bonds. The unity of Bhutanese as a nation first emerged 400 years ago when Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel established the first governance system in Bhutan, the Choe-sed Nyi-dhen (Dual system of governance with secular and temporal heads). Through the ages, while civil wars torn the regions apart, for the external enemies Bhutanese were united always. However, destiny had it that peoples representative of Bhutan unanimously enthroned Gongsa Ugyen Wangchuck as the first hereditary King of Bhutan in Punakha dzong on 17th December 1907. Since then, we Bhutanese have always reaped the peace of hard work put in by our benevolent monarchs and on every 17th December we come together not only to celebrate the joy of unity under the leadership of our great kings but also to pay tribute to their selfless efforts and to rededicate our service to Tsa-wa-sum.  
3 generation Kings in Trongsa: 17th December 2016

This year has been more significant and historic with culmination of many events. While the year, Male Fire Monkey is the birth year of Guru Rinpochhe, the second Budha who brought Buddhism in Bhutan and prophesised for the coming of great kings, 2016 also marks the 400th year of Zhabdrungs arrival in Bhutan, who established the first governance system for Drukyul. The year has become more historic as we Bhutanese are blessed with the birth of Royal Gyalsey, the Crown Prince Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck, to usher continuity of Wangchuck Dynasty in Bhutan. 17th December 2016 marks the 109th National day and indeed a new era after completing 108 auspicious years. The day also became significant as His Royal Highness the Crown Prince attends the 109th National Day together with his father, His Majesty the King and Royal Grandfather, His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo , the journey to new era at the historic Trongsa Dzong. The people by virtue of holding the Bhutanese identity are luckiest to witness such culmination of historic events, which will foster stronger unity as nation.
Ambassador of Bhutan to EU, H.E. Aum Pema Choden
addressing the gathering in Brussels

Being Bhutanese is tagged with happiness once we are outside. However for Bhutanese, happiness doesn’t come with material wealth but with spiritual wellbeing and mental contentment. Residing and studying in Universities abroad, Bhutanese are often without fellow countrymen as colleagues and I am not an exception. I study in the University of Greifswald in Germany and since my coming here, I never met any fellow Bhutanese in Germany. This is also attributed to the fact that we are a country of small population, and it makes us unique in the University. However, for this year’s National day, Bhutanese in Europe had the privilege of celebrating the big day in Brussels, hosted by Royal Bhutan Embassy in Brussels. Being away from home and being without companion from home country, becoming part of such events gives much joy and happiness. It was like home coming. The moments become more special when the event is celebrated in a faraway place. The national identity brought us all together for the common prayers and aspirations. This is the beauty of small Bhutan.
Bhutanese from different countries in EU (2016)

As expressed in many royal addresses, the small Bhutan has lots of opportunities and prospects. Our great monarchs have made our stance today more firm and comfortable. With the gift of democracy to the people, we have now more responsibility in building the nation. From preservation of cultural heritages to conservation natural environment, building the nation’s economy to strengthening the governance with transparency and accountability, our responsibility is huge. However, unlike many other countries which are doomed by wars and political instability, we have all the conditions favourable. We have the resources to build nation’s economy, we have inspiration and guidance of our King to manage the resources sustainably, and most importantly we are a small population with strong sense of unity so nothing is really unachievable with stronger will of the people. With continued effort and dedication from individuals, one day, like the Switzerland, we can be a developed Himalayan state, still embracing happiness with culturally rich and naturally intact heritages.

May the glorious reign of Wangchuck Dynasty flourish forever and may unity of Bhutan be never lost. 

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