The Birth Anniversary of Third Druk Gyalpo is celebrated on 2 May in the Buddhist Kingdom of Bhutan. “Druk Gyalpo” is an honorary title given to Bhutan’s kings and means “dragon king”.
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The third king of Bhutan was Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. Born in 1928, he ascended the throne at age 24 and died after a 20-year reign, on 21 July 1972.
During his 20-year reign, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk opened up Bhutan to trade and relations with the outside world after centuries of relative isolation. He also introduced democracy, land reforms, educational progress, road networks and other infrastructure, and more. He also began the tradition of the five-year economic plan and saw Bhutan admitted to the United Nations.
His birth anniversary is also known as Teacher’s Day because of the 102 schools established in Bhutan during his reign.
Finally, it was Jigme Dorji Wangchuk who first began calling Bhutan’s king’s “dragon kings”. The term was applied retroactively, but he was actually the first king of Bhutan referred to as “Druk Gyalpo” during his actual reign.
The third Druk Gyalpo was very accurately dubbed by his people, “Father of Modern Bhutan”. And even long past his years in office and his death, Birth Anniversary of Third Druk Gyalpo continues to be a major holiday in the country he steered into the modern world.
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