Bhutan's royal wedding
Bhutan's Dragon King married a young commoner in an ancient Himalayan monastic fortress, sipping a chalice of ambrosia symbolising eternal life in a Buddhist wedding that has transfixed a reclusive kingdom slowly embracing globalisation.
The king of Bhutan married his commoner bride in an ancient
Buddhist ceremony at the country's most sacred monastery fortress.
King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck wore a crown adorned with a raven's head during the sumptuous ceremony in this 17th-century fortress, as 21-year-old student Jetsun Pema, daughter of an airline pilot, received a crown embroidered with silk.
In a nation of 700,000 people where television was only introduced in 1999, the ceremony was broadcast live. Thousands of people, dressed in traditional coloured robes, stood outside. Some monks chanted, others hit drums, as white incense drifted through the morning mist.
Oxford-educated Wangchuck, 31, is revered as this insular nation slowly embraces democracy after his father abdicated in 2006 to introduce parliamentary elections. The monarchy is seen as helping stabilise a fragile democracy wedged between India and China in a conflict-ridden region.
As the mist slowly lifted, Buddhist horns sounded across the Punakha valley as the bride arrived in a procession of singers, relatives and Buddhist monks across an ancient footbridge, all led by a white horse. Baby elephants guarded one of the fortress's
Posters of the couple adorn almost every building, lamppost and roundabout in the capital, Thimphu, three hours drive away. School children have published poems in the
Monks have held dawn prayer sessions in remote mountain valleys and Bhutan's airline has had to add extra flights to deal with the demand of visitors from abroad.
The 31-year-old monarch is known as the "people's king" for his relaxed manner with his subjects, and - sporting sideburns and swept-back hair - he is a pin-up for many teenage
But Bhutan's fifth king, affectionately known as K5, also provides the checks and balances on an unsure democracy where political parties did not exist four years ago.
The new king, a keen basketball player and archer, has jettisoned that reclusive and elitist image. He lives in a cottage in Thimphu, and
He has spent months touring Bhutan's remote villages - often walking among villagers holding his bride-to-be by the hand.
After his wedding, the king walked around thousands of many villagers who waited outside the fortress, patting children on the head and shaking hands in gestures unheard from previous monarchs.
King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, right, Queen Jetsun Pema, center, greet locals during a celebration after they were married at the Punakha Dzong in Punakha, Bhutan, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011. The 31-year-old reformist monarch of the small Himalayan Kingdom wed his commoner bride in a series ceremonies Thursday in the 17th century monastic fortress.
King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, left, greets the media and guests as Queen Jetsun Pema looks on after they were married at the Punakha Dzong in Punakha, Bhutan, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011. The 31-year-old reformist monarch of the small Himalayan Kingdom wed his commoner bride in a series ceremonies Thursday.
King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck (L) holds a child while greeting villagers with Queen Jetsun Pema after their wedding in Bhutan's ancient capital Punakha October 13, 2011. Bhutan's "Dragon King" married a commoner in a Himalayan monastic fortress on Thursday, sipping a chalice of ambrosia symbolizing eternal life, in a wedding that has transfixed a reclusive kingdom slowly embracing globalization.
Image and Article Credit: yahoo.india