The tiny Himalayan nation of Bhutan has received a royal gift – 21 year old, Ashi Jetsun Pema, the new Queen. On 13 October, 2011, the 31 year old King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck wed and crowned her in a small private ceremony at the Punakha Dzong, a 16th century fortress.
It was a much anticipated event for the Bhutanese who were beginning to wonder when the bachelor King, known all over South Asia for his striking good looks as well his attractive personable nature, was going to marry and settle down.
The excitement of the Bhutanese came pouring out on the Twittersphere as well as on facebook and other social media outlets with people posting tributes, good wishes and pictures of the royal couple, with some even going so far as to change their profile pictures to that of the royal couple.
Tshering Tashi, a class XI student of Punakha HSS, wrote this tribute in a guest post on Rikku Dhan Subba's site:
The moment I heard the news,
I emptied my heart, and filled it with happiness,
For I could not help but feel overwhelmed,
For I could not help but feel sheer joy.
In the weeks leading up to the great event a massive earthquake measuring 6.9 on the richter scale on 18 September, left the country crippled with considerable damage to several ancient monasteries and about 1,200 homes. From that day right up to about four days before the wedding, the King and his bride-to-be toured the country to assess the damage and reassure people of support.
The Royal Media Officer, Dorji Wangchuk who was in the town of Samchi Southern Bhutan accompanying the King, tweeted :
@Dorji_Wangchuk: Can't believe the royal wedding is just few days away. And we are not even in Thimphu.
Then, just two days before the wedding after about a little over 150 journalists had descended on the tiny Capital, was another tweet from him:
@Dorji_Wangchuk: Another foreign journo calld me. “Hey, there's nothin really happenin here. only 2 days 4 the royal wedding!” “Welcome 2 Bhutan” i told him.
Amongst the Bhutanese it is known that we are great at pulling off last minute preparations, even if it is for the King's wedding.
And sure enough, yet again they did. The wedding, which was live streamed by Bhutan's national television channel BBS (Bhutan Broadcasting Corporation), was a spectacle to behold. For many who couldn't make it to Punakha or even Bhutan, even though the bandwidth didn't do justice to the event, it was still helpful in getting a sense of the excitement, being a part of this sacred union as well as getting treated to a rare glimpse of His Majesty the Fourth King of Bhutan who was responsible for ushering democratic reforms to his tiny Kingdom.
Prominent Blogger and well known photographer in Bhutan, Yeshey Dorji was glued to his screen and wrote:
Even as I write this post, I have one of my eyes on the TV screen where the proceedings of the Royal Wedding that is currently underway in Punakha are being broadcast live by the BBS. It is a beautiful event. The color, the pomp and the pageantry is simply fabulous! I am told that His Majesty had willed that the event should be a very subdued affair. When I look on the TV screen, I cannot fathom how such an event can ever be subdued – the profusion of colors, the solemnity of the occasion, the rituals, the reverberating resonance of the drums and the cymbals and the deep throated gurgling of the Dhung and the soulful musical sounds of the Jaling – they all combine to make the ceremony into something of a monumental celebration. And it should be rightly so, after all, this ceremony goes beyond the formalization of a matrimonial union of two beings. This event is the public legitimization of the appointment of the Queen of Bhutan.
For many Bhutanese these are events that are stamped in history and of memories made with family and the country. A teacher named Passang, who blogs and keeps a “Journal of an ordinary Bhutanese”, said:
How much ever I write today, it is bound to fall far short of what actually happened. Queen of Bhutan is crowned and people far beyond our country have seen the crowning glory. Just for the record, I want to post this so that someday my daughter will grow up to read this and know that she was present at the ceremony.
It seems that on such a joyous occasion some of the Refugees resettled overseas reached out to send their good wishes via comments on an article on BNS.com (Bhutan News Service) Some comments, however, were dripping with sarcasm. Parangkush Subedi from Philadelphia and Kashi Pokharel said:
Congratulation HM the 5th King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and the Queen Jetsum Pema!
And today, the celebrations continues. As the Royal Couple made their way back to the Capital Thimphu, the highway and the streets of Thimphu were lined with young and old out to greet the King and his new Queen.
Yeatoeh Penjore, a college student, tweeted:
@Yeatoeh: I can still see people waiting to greet the King and the Queen at the end of Norzin Lam. #Bhutan
And Deki Phuntsho, a mother of two, said on Facebook :
Darkness has fallen and still, the public are lined up near the dzong waiting for the royal couple, who have been walking and greeting the public all day. They truly are our ‘people's king and queen’.