The Bhutanese Celebrated The Birth Of Their Prince By Planting 1,08,000 Trees

The Bhutanese Celebrated The Birth Of Their Prince By Planting 1,08,000 Trees

On February 5, King Khesar and Queen Jetsun of the kingdom of Bhutan announced the birth of their first child. The next day, marking the birth of the little prince, tens of thousands of citizens of this land came together and planted trees across the country.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, three of his ministers, and the leader of Opposition were among the volunteers who helped plant a total of 1,08,000 trees, each sealed with a prayer for the heir to the throne. “In Buddhism, a tree is the provider and nourisher of all life forms, symbolizing longevity, health, beauty and even compassion,” said Tenzin Lekphell, who coordinated the initiative, which is called Tendrel in the local language. It wasn’t a coincidence that Buddha attained enlightenment under a banyan tree, he added.

Why specifically 1,08,000 trees? Because, in Buddhism, 108 is a sacred number that denotes the cleansing of the 108 ‘defilements’ that prevent humans from attaining enlightenment. Lekphell explains that this the reason why there are 108 beads in a rosary.

Every single one of the 82,000 households in the country planted a tree. The remaining 26,000 were planted by volunteers in plantations across 14 districts. “Each sapling encapsulates a prayer and a wish from the person who planted it to His Royal Highness the Prince so that just like the bountiful tree, the Prince also grows up healthy, strong, wise and compassionate,” Lekphell said.

Royal couple with the prince Image Source: www.clickittefaq.com

The entire celebration is a testament to the love and reverence the Bhutanese have for their monarchs. The Buddhist country is known for its peaceful life, unlike other South Asian nations which have civil disputes, communal violence, insurgencies and other such problems constantly plaguing them. Rooted in its tradition, the country has been free from attacks from the outside world—a feat that the people of this nation believe is the result of their monarch’s efforts.

In 2008, Bhutan became a democracy. Albeit against the people’s wishes, the system has worked very well in their favour. While they continue to look up to the king in terms of matters regarding the nation’s progress and stability, the democratic government introduces reforms. Their unique policy of Gross National Happiness, which balances economic growth with environmental conservation and the well-being of its people, is an example of how much the government of this country values its people. This policy has been gaining the attention of several global leaders, that too in a world which is plagued by collapsing financial systems, gross inequity and wide-scale environmental destruction.

As the celebratory trees were planted on March 6, the Ministry of Tourism used the occasion to inaugurate a ‘Happiness Garden’ in the national capital of Thimphu. The 48,400-square-yard garden has been set up so that tourists can plant ‘happiness trees,’ with the aim being to have trees representing every country in the world. “Bhutan is known as a country of happiness. To have a happiness garden is therefore logical. With this garden, we hope to bring the peoples of the world closer,” Damchoe Rinzin, a spokesperson for the Tourism Council of Bhutan, said.

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