Tag Archive for 'King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck'

King of Bhutan marries commoner

Image: Kuensel

Reuters report from Punakha, Bhutan:

 Bhutan’s “Dragon King” married a young commoner in an ancient Himalayan monastic fortress on Thursday, sipping a chalice of ambrosia symbolising eternal life in a Buddhist wedding that has transfixed a reclusive kingdom slowly embracing globalisation.

King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck wore a crown adorned with a raven’s head during the sumptuous ceremony in this 17th-century fortress, as 21-year-old student Jetsun Pema, daughter of an airline pilot, received a crown embroidered with silk.

In a nation of 700,000 people where television was only introduced in 1999, the ceremony was broadcast live. Thousands of people, dressed in traditional coloured robes, stood outside. Some monks chanted, others hit drums, as white incense drifted through the morning mist. more and here

How the king proposed when she was just seven years old

The royal couple apparently met when aged 17 and seven respectively at a family picnic in Thimphu. The then-prince got down on his knees and said “when you grow up, if I am single and not married and if you are single and not married, I would like you to be my wife, provided we still feel the same,” he told students in August.

Also visit Bhutan daily news site Kuensel online

Behind the mist wall

Posted by Namita Bhandare: My HT column, Another Day looks at how a country, secluded for centuries, ushers in the 21st Century. How do change, tradition and modernity co-exist in Bhutan?

Last year heads had turned when a tall, slim and elegant woman turned up at the Mountain Echoes literary festival in Thimphu, Bhutan. When the Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck (a writer who is also the festival’s patron), escorted this young woman to the front row, necks craned further: who was this woman? Was it true that she was going to be the next queen of Bhutan? [a pause for some chest thumping: Asian Window broke that story last year, see it here]

Last week, 31-year-old King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangyal announced his engagement to the striking Jetsun Pema while inaugurating his country’s Parliament session. Later, the royal couple made their first official appearance at the inauguration of Mountain Echoes at India House, holding hands, posing for photographs, stealing glances and smiles. Every Bhutanese I congratulated beamed with pride as if it was a family wedding. At newspaper offices the next morning, irritated readers wanted to know why extra copies hadn’t been printed in anticipation of the huge demand for the first royal portrait. This is, after all, a country where hip teenagers sport buttons of the king’s image on their shirts. “For us Bhutanese, it’s a profound moment that symbolises continuity,” said a journalist. more

Bhutan’s King to marry commoner


Bhutan's King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and his fiancee Jetsun Pema pose in Bhutan in this undated handout released May 20, 2011.

Bhutan’s 31 year-old King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck on Friday announced in Parliament his engagement to a commoner. The bride is a 21-year-old student at London’s Regents College.

“Her name is Jetsun Pema. While she is young, she is warm and kind in heart and character,” the 31-year-old Oxford-educated monarch told the gathered lawmakers. “I have decided that the wedding shall be later this year.” (Reuter)

In Kuensel:

“As King, it is now time for me to marry,” His Majesty said, smiling, towards the end of his address at the opening of the seventh parliament session, which was attended by royal family members, government officials, representatives of international organisations, students and the public. “After much thought, I have decided that the wedding shall be later this year,” His Majesty, who is 31, said.

Jetsun Pema, 21, a student of Regents College, London, UK, and second eldest among four siblings, is the daughter of Dhondup Gyaltshen, the grandson of Trashigang dzongpon Dopola and Sonam Chuki of the Bumthang Pangtey family. She has been accompanying His Majesty on royal tours around the country in recent months. More here, here and here

Posted by Asian Window: Jetsun Pema is also the name of the living sister of the 14th Dalai Lama. According to her Facebook  biography, “She came to India in 1950 and studied first at St. Joseph’s Convent in Kalimpong and later at Loreto Convent in Darjeeling from where she completed her Senior Cambridge in 1960. In 1961, she went to Switzerland and then to England to do further studies. She returned to India in April 1964. “

Mountain Echoes Day 3: Media and happiness

Namita Bhandare, Jai Arjun Singh, Tshering Tobgay and Siok Sian Pek Dorji

Namita Bhandare from Thimphu on Day 3 of Bhutan’s first-ever literary festival:

Kinley Dorji, Secretary in the ministry of Information, points out that the main competitors of newspapers in Bhutan are not television, but word-of-mouth rumour mongering.

“Bhutan is a small country,” he says to me over drinks the previous night. “Here we not only know who is sleeping with whom, but also who will be sleeping with whom.”

At last count, Bhutan had six newspapers, five radio stations and one television station. Earlier at a reception, I am introduced to Sherpem, an attractive Bhutanese woman who has a degree in journalism from Columbia University. She is, I am told, ‘the Barkha Dutt of Bhutan’.

Kinley Dorji

Kinley Dorji

Dorji has also studied journalism in the United States. “I came back with a journalism degree,” says the Stanford University alum, “But no newspaper to work for.” So, he did the next best thing: he started his own paper, Kuensel.

From playing editor, Dorji is currently hammering out his country’s media policy. His point of view is that it is the government’s responsibility to develop a professional media industry. The big concern is international media. Until 1999, there was no television, now over 40 channels beam into Bhutanese homes. At the time when TV was first introduced, the role model for most young Bhutanese men was the King. Today it is Shah Rukh Khan and 50 Cent, says Dorji.

How do you fit the concept of gross national happiness into this nascent media world? By having media awards that focus not so much on the top breaking stories as much as stories that best present culture or focus on good governance or the environment.

Dorji has his work cut out; not a moment to lose. Bhutan is laying fibre optic lines from Thimphu to its 20 districts, connecting the country by broadband. Freedom of expression and the right to information is guaranteed by the country’s newly adopted Constitution. Over 2,000 citizens engage actively in online discussions and there are 18,000 registered internet users in this country of 634,982 people; 60 per cent survive on subsistence farming, 25 per cent live below the poverty line. Incidentally, Siok Sian Dorji who heads Bhutan’s Centre for Media and Democracy, points out that half the population has cell phones.

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Bhutan King at the Literary Festival

Pavan Varma and Gulzar

Pavan Varma and Gulzar

Namita Bhandare from Thimphu on Day 2 of Bhutan’s first-ever literary festival:

Her Majesty the Queen Mother, Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, inaugurates the Mountain Echoes literary festival as Indian ambassador Pavan K Varma (Right) looks on. Photo: Kuensel

The Bhutan Literary Festival had an unexpected visitor today when King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the fifth king, said he wanted to meet writers from India. At a hastily convened tea, that included home-made samosas, at India House, the residence of Indian Ambassador Pavan Varma, the King dressed in a traditional black gho and accompanied by the Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck who is a published author and a patron of the festival, mingled with writers, finally settling down to an impromptu poetry reading by Gulzar in Varma’s drawing room.

Gulzar read his poems in Hindustani while Pavan Varma did the translations in English. The smallish crowd included writer and historian Patrick French whose biography of Francis Younghusband apparently impressed the Queen Mother to such a degree that French and his India-born wife, Meru Gokhale, were among the few foreign guests she invited to the King’s coronation in 2008.

The new King, K5 as he is referred to, has his work cut out for him. His father had the easier job of abdicating. Now it is his responsibility to make Bhutan a modern nation while striving to retain its unique cultural identity. The King is fond of interacting with students. He tells them to retain their individuality and continue to think creatively.

Click here for the Kuensel story

Continue reading ‘Bhutan King at the Literary Festival’

His Majesty the Druk Gyalpo

Bhutan will crown its fifth king, the 27-year-old Oxford-educated King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, on November 6. Jigme Khesar became king late in 2006 after his father, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, abdicated. The coronation was delayed because astrologers said 2007 was not an auspicious time for the young king to be crowned. King Jigme Singye Wangchuck established a parliamentary democracy in the Himalayan Kingdom with the monarch as head of state.

Kinley Dorji at Kuensel on what the coronation means:

It is the end – and the beginning – of history. On the morning of November 1, the third day of the ninth Bhutanese month, His Majesty the King will be empowered as the Druk Gyalpo in a unique and sacred empowerment ceremony, which symbolises his transcendence of the ordinary and the temporal and the personification of divine wisdom.

His Majesty will receive the Dar Na-Nga, a special arrangement of the primary colours that signify the five elements. The ceremony will take place in the Machhen Lhakhang, and the Dar Na-Nga will be symbolically conferred by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, in the presence of the fourth Druk Gyalpo, with the empowerment prayer chanted by His Holiness the Je Khenpo.

The white, yellow, red, green, and blue silk scarves represent the elements – water, earth, fire, wind, and space – the basis of physical existence, that His Majesty personifies, as well as the underlying energies from which the physical world arises.