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Bhutan National Day Celebration

Changlimthang National Stadium, Thimphu--December 17, 2009

sunny

Much to my surprise, I received an invitation from the Royal Government of Bhutan to observe in a distinguished visitor's enclosure at Changlimthang National Stadium in Thimphu--Bhutan's National Day celebration on December 17, 2009. The National Day celebration is an annual event that observes the establishment of the hereditary Wangchuck monarchy that was established on December 17, 1907.

Seating for this important Bhutanese state event was threefold. Many citizens and visitors were seated in the Changlimthang Stadium's large arena seating area. There were also two distinguished visitor enclosures on the grass field of which I sat in one. In my enclosure were a number of high ranking Bhutanese military officers and government officials. Finally, the royal family and important governmental members such as ministers and members of parliament and their families sat in a separate review stand.

The ceremony included the arrival of His Majesty the King in an impressive Chhipdrel Procession with Royal Guards. This was followed by a Bhutanese flag hoisting by the Guard of Honour.

Bhutan Musical Honor Guard

Bhutan Musical Honor Guard

Royal Bhutan Honor Guard

Royal Bhutan Honor Guard

Traditional Bhutanese Military Uniform

Traditional Bhutanese Military Uniform

Then His Majesty addressed the nation, which included awarding honors and medals to several citizens. Finally, a traditional dance and cultural celebration occurred.

Traditional Dancer

Traditional Dancer

Ceremonial Dance Around Tree II

Ceremonial Dance Around Tree II

The following is a video sample of the cultural dances that were performed:

This was followed by a Tashi Lebey or the final traditional dance.

Final Traditional Dance

Final Traditional Dance

Guests in the distinguished visitor's enclosure were also provided with traditional Bhutanese food served in a Zhechha Zherey. Zhechha Zherey is a traditional Bhutanese (usually wooden) bowl that all visitors were expected to bring. I found a nice one the day before at a local handicraft shop not too far from where the celebration was taking place. The food was quite good.

Posted by mgivel 19:56 Archived in Bhutan Tagged events Comments (0)

Press Coverage in Bhutan on New Tobacco Report

A major newspaper in Bhutan--Kuensel--has just run a great story on my newly released tobacco report: http://www.kuenselonline.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=14055

The article is entitled: Non-criminal approach recommended, Beating the smoking habit will require a more holistic plan of attack

The report has come out before the current Session of Parliament in Bhutan where amendments to the current tobacco law are being considered. The full report is located here: http://faculty-staff.ou.edu/G/Michael.S.Givel-1/Bhutan%20Tobacco%20Monograph8.pdf

Posted by mgivel 18:55 Archived in Bhutan Tagged events Comments (0)

Thimphu Tsechu Day 3

By Becky

We've been having computer and internet problems, so here (only a bit late!) is the description of the the last day of the Thimphu Festival, on Sept. 30. Since then, it's gotten much cooler, only a light jacket is needed mornings and evenings.

I was a bit better prepared for the last day of Tsechu, with a scarf for the heat and a seat two rows up, which turned out still not to be high enough to see above the people passing by. In the first dance, the monks did not wear masks, but crown-like headdresses. Their performance included dramatic high leaps I hadn’t seen in any other of the dances.

The second dance seemed to be a reprise of the Lords of the Cremation grounds; it was the first part of the dance The Judgement of the Dead, which continued in stages throughout the morning between the other dances. The skeletons entered carrying a black "body" between them which stayed in the center of the dance ground all morning.

The third major dance of the day started out looking quite a bit like the Dance of the Terrifying deities, but is called Ging and Tsholing. The fierce-looking protectors of religion (the Tsholing) first consecrate the dancing ground. Then they are chased away by the Ging, escorts of Guru Rinpoche, wearing yellow skirts and tall flags on their heads over fanged masks. They first come out of the crowd and periodically return to tap people on the head with their drumsticks. Children rush down into the aisles and into the front rows to be tapped. Men carry small children and even adults bow down to be tapped. This drives out impurities. I found this to be the most thrilling of all the dances, perhaps because the movements of the Ging awere not scripted as in all the other dances, and because of their dramatic spinning leaps.

Again the heat was too much for me, and I missed the afternoon and closing dance, the Eight Manifestations of the Guru Rinpoche.

Posted by rsherry 00:34 Archived in Bhutan Tagged events Comments (2)

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