October 28, 2020

Tiny kingdom of Bhutan prepares for royal wedding

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THIMPHU, Bhutan (AP) — Children composed poems of joy, flight attendants and bank clerks practiced celebratory dances and the airwaves were flooded with wedding fever as the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan prepared for the marriage of its beloved fifth Dragon King.

The ceremony Thursday, while far less star-studded than the year’s other royal wedding — of William and Kate — will be no less elaborate in its uniquely Bhutanese way.

“It’s the biggest occasion I’ll ever see in my life,” said Tshewang Rinzin, 27, a loan officer.

The couple will be married by Bhutan’s top Buddhist cleric in the country’s most sacred monastery fortress in the old capital of Punakha early in the morning at an auspicious time determined by astrologers.

During the hours of ceremonies, the 31-year-old king, Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, will be adorned with royal scarves. His bride, 21-year-old Jetsun Pema, will present him a chalice filled with the ambrosia of eternal life that he will drink, and he will place a crown upon the new queen’s head.

“It’s a very emotional experience, a spiritual experience as well,” Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley told The Associated Press.

Yet there will be no foreign princes, no visiting heads of state, no global celebrities, just the royal family, thousands of nearby villagers and the rest of the country’s 700,000 people watching live on TV.

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