Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bhutan's beloved king marries commoner in a nation that measures itself by "Gross National Happiness": A lesson for us all

The beloved king of the tiny Himalayan nation of Bhutan married his commoner bride Thursday in an ancient Buddhist ceremony at the country's most sacred monastery fortress.

King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, wearing the raven crown, came down from his golden throne in front of a huge statue of Buddha to place a smaller, silk brocade crown upon the head of his bride, Jetsun Pema. Monks chanted in celebration as she took her seat beside him as the new queen of the country.
Bhutan

The wedding has captivated the nation, which had grown impatient with their 31-year-old bachelor king's lack of urgency to wed. Children composed poems, flight attendants practised celebratory dances and posters of the couple were nearly ubiquitous.

The celebrations began at 8:20 a.m. local time — a time set by royal astrologers — when the king, wearing the royal yellow sash, walked into the courtyard of the 17th century monastery in the old capital of Punakha and proceeded up the high staircase inside. A few minutes later, his 21-year-old bride arrived at the end of a procession of red-robed monks and flag bearers across a wooden footbridge over the wide, blue river beside the fort and followed him inside.

Singers chanted songs of celebration amid the clanging of drums and the drone of long dhung trumpets.

She wore a traditional wraparound skirt with a gold jacket with deep red cuffs.

Inside, the nation's top cleric, who presided over the wedding, performed a purification ceremony for the couple in front of a massive, long Thongdal tapestry of Bhutan's 17th century founder. more