King HM Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck is the current Druk Gyalp, or Dragon King, of Bhutan. On February 21 each year, the citizens of Bhutan celebrate the anniversary of his birth.
|2020||21 Feb to 23 Feb||Fri to Sun||Birth Anniversary of His Majesty the King|
He ascended the throne in 2006 when his father, Jigme Singye Wangchuck abdicated the throne in his favour two years earlier than planned, making Jigme Singye Wangchuck one of the youngest monarchs in the world.
About the King
Like his father, the King is known as the People’s King, enjoying warm relations with the citizens. He is immensely popular in India and Thailand, too. Under his father’s reign, the King travelled with him throughout the country and often represented Bhutan at various public events, including the 27th UN General Assembly.
In 2006, he attended the Thai Kiing Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 60th Anniversary Celebrations and caused a sensation among women. As a result, the press labelled him Prince Charming of the Himalayas. In October, 2011, the King married his longtime girlfriend, Jetsun Pema, in a small, private ceremony which led to a three-day celebration in Bhutan. In April, 2016, the couple had a son, Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck who is now the heir apparent to the throne.
History of the Holiday
There have been five kings in Bhutan since 1907 and the country celebrates most of their birthdays. The Kingdom of Bhutan is unique in that it functions on the premise of gross national happiness which encourages spiritual development as a way to build community unity. The King is responsible for ensuring the spiritual development and community focus throughout the country.
Traditions of the Holiday
The King’s birthday is celebrated for three days while he is the reigning king. There are huge festivals and parades throughout the kingdom. Because the government requires citizens to wear traditional clothing every day, clothing styles are not much different on the celebration.
Buddhism is the predominant religion leading to many ceremonies dominated by that faith. Many citizens eat emadatse, a stew made from chili pepper and cheese and drink either chang, a local beer, or arra, a distilled spirit. In some locations, flags are hoisted in honour of the king, promoting his long life, good health and the prosperity of the kingdom.
The government requires government officers to attend official celebration ceremonies and all government offices are closed for three days as the kingdom celebrates. Most of the celebrations are paid through tax collections and some of the birthday celebrations can be very lavish.