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Thimphu gears up for royal welcome

Thimphu: Bhutan`s picturesque capital is soaked in the colour of festivities as it gears up to give a rapturous welcome to the country`s newly-wed Royal Couple who are set to join their subjects in a spectacular celebration of their wedding tomorrow.

King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema, who are already on their way to Thimphu from the historic city of Punakha, will join the festivities tomorrow to bring alive the capital. Bhutanese national flags, scarves of five colours and pictures of a handsome Wangchuck and an elegant Pema holding each other`s hand adorn roads, homes, hotels and government offices across the capital.

The celebrations will be held at a spectacular stadium here where audience would be treated to traditional songs and dances. Workers started erecting banners and national flags near the Changlingmithang Grounds, where the celebrations will take place, since early morning and people put up pictures of the Royal Couple at the entrance of their homes to mark one of the historic events of their lifetime.

The Royal Couple will arrive at the Tashichhoedzong, a monastic fortress on northern edge of the city, the seat of the Bhutan`s government. The King and the Queen would be accorded a ceremonial Guard of Honour and will attend a Trashi Lekdar ceremony in the `Golden Throne Room` where the country`s head cleric will initiate a series of ceremonies.

After a series of ceremonies at the Palace, the Royal Couple, accompanied by Wangchuck`s father and the fourth king of Bhutan, will reach the Grounds at around 10.00 AM after which the celebrations would begin.
As the Bhutanese national flag would be unfurled, the King and the Queen would jointly light butter lamps and offer prayers, thus inaugurating the day-long celebrations.

The audience, that will include foreign dignitaries, would be enthralled by students and people from all 20 Valleys of the country performing songs and dances. The children have been specially trained to perform the dances. The highlight of the programmes is expected to be the folk dances by people from different regions, officials said.

Bhutanese have been enjoying a three-day public holiday beginning yesterday on the occasion of the Royal Wedding and have been celebrating the wedding in their own ways. People, who could not make it to Punkaha, watched it live on state television and organised traditional archery matches to mark the occasion.

As part of the celebrations, the Royal Monetary Authority has printed commemorative banknotes and minted silver coins to commemorate the Royal Wedding. The note that cost Rs 500 and the silver coin Rs 5,000 are being sold, while two specially-minted one kg coins for the King and the Queen were presented to them yesterday.

Not to be left behind, the Bhutan Postal Corporation Limited (BPCL) has launched 60,000 stamps of the Royal Couple to commemorate the royal wedding.

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