10/13/2011, 00.00
BHUTAN
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The king of Bhutan marries pilot’s daughter

The wedding was held in the ancient capital Punaka. The festivities across the country last for three days. With a symbolic attack on the border with India, 80 thousand ethnic Nepali Bhutanese refugees ask the couple not to forget them.
Timphu (AsiaNews) - With songs, dances and poems today Bhutan is celebrating the marriage of King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck to twenty-one year old Jetsun Pema, the non-noble-born daughter of an airline pilot.

The monarch defined by Asian newspapers as the "prince of the Himalayas" chose a simple ceremony with no royals or celebrities, broadcast live on television with the traditional rite of Mahayana Buddhism. One of the oldest fortress-monasteries (dzong) in the ancient capital of the kingdom Punaka was chosen for the event.

In obedience to the court astrologers, the celebration began at 8.20 am (local time), with the entry of the monarch in the monastery courtyard wearing the symbols of the monarchy: the yellow band and the so-called "crow "crown. A few minutes later, between the roar of drums and the humming of dhung trumpets, the bride arrived dressed in gold and accompanied by a procession of monks and flag-wavers with red dresses. As per tradition, the eldest Monk celebrated the ritual of purification of the couple in front of a heavy tapestry of 17th century depicting the legendary king and warrior- monk Zhabdrung the founder of Bhutan. King Jigme then knelt in front of a huge statue of Bhudda and placed the crown on the head of his wife. The marriage rite was concluded with the ceremony of homage at the graves of ancestors and with the delivery of gifts from the families of the spouses and relatives.

Celebrations will continue for three days and involve all the subjects of the small kingdom. The couple will honeymoon in the region of Rajasthan, India.

However, the party was shaken by an attack which occurred last October 11 on the border with India claimed by members of the United Revolutionary Front of Bhutan (Urfb). The terrorist group have been fighting for the freedom of over 80 thousand ethnic Nepalese refugees exiled to the border with Nepal in the 1990s. In a statement, the rebels have said that the gesture was a way to remind the king on a day of national celebration the sufferings of his subjects expelled from the kingdom and forgotten by their monarch.

The young king, an Oxford graduate, who ascended to the throne in 2008 after the abdication of his father, has abolished the absolute monarchy and introduced democratic elections. The Buddhist country has 600 thousand inhabitants and is famous for inventing the national happiness index. The image of goodness, however, is tarnished by the case of the more than 100 thousand Bhutanese refugees of ethnic Nepali extraction driven from the country during the reign of the former ruler who was opposed to a non-Buddhist presence in his kingdom. To date, the democratic government of the new king does not want to recognize the citizenship of the former subjects. Since 2007 about 20 thousand Refugees were welcomed by third countries such as USA, Australia, New Zealand, after twenty years spent in refugee camps.

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