Bhutan celebrates its National Day on 17 December, in commemoration of the day in 1907 when Gongsar Wangchuk was crowned the first king over a united Bhutan. This day is celebrated because it launched Bhutan into an era of peace and prosperity after having been embroiled in a long civil war.
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In the early 1600’s, a Tibetan king had ruled over Bhutan, but after his death, the country was divided into competing smaller kingdoms. Wangchuk and his father struggled in a civil war from the 1860’s. By 1907, Wangchuk had vanquished his competitors and became king of Bhutan.
On National Day in Bhutan, the reigning king and a statue of Wangchuk take part in a parade at the national stadium. Great crowds gather for the events of the day. There is a flag-raising ceremony, and there are also various Buddhist religious ceremonies at temples. Flowers and lit candles are central to some of the ceremonies, and the whole nation watches many of these events via television.
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