Manmohan Singh gets grand ceremonial guard of honour

May 16th, 2008 - 7:36 pm ICT by admin  

By Ashok Dixit

Thimphu, May 16 (ANI): It was a ceremonial guard of honour worth replicating for its precision and panache. Visiting Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh was given a grand welcome at the Tashichhodzong, the seat of government in Bhutan Capital Thimphu on Friday afternoon.

It was an event that emphatically emphasized theclose and strong ties between India and Bhutan. All stops were pulled out by the Bhutanese administration. Sequentially, it included a presentation of a guard of honour by a smartly turned out and uniformed166 personnel of the Royal Bodyguards in red berets and the Royal Bhutan Army in green berets.

Shortly before the Prime Minister’s arrival, the heavens opened andit waspouring cats and dogs, preventing both dignitaries and accompanying media to stand out in the open. Butwonder of wonders, the downpourstopped in seconds. Inquiries with locals revealed thatBuddhist monks had uttered some chants, and stopped the rain. An officialescorting the media said: ‘When the rain comes, and it stops for an event like this, it is considered auspicious.”

The monks here have the power to stop and bring rains,” he further added.

Coming back to the ceremony, the Indian Prime Minister was escorted into the central courtyard by acultural troupe singing the traditional Bhutanese song of welcome for a guest, and by people dressed, helmetedand armed as per Bhutanese tradition. Cymbals crashingagainst each other and drums preceded the dignitaries.

Dr. Singh was escorted up to the saluting dais byBhutanese and Indian officials. The national anthems of the two countries followed, and then he was presented with the guard of honour with a precisionusually associated with the men in uniform.

Another interestingdetail revealed about the Tashichhodzong was that it also serves as the summer capital of the Je Khempo or the Head Abbot of Bhutan, HisHoliness Truelku Jigmi Chodra, who commands equal, if not more respect the King. We were told that HisHolinesshas presently set up his base at his winter capital in Punakha, but would be coming to Thimphu soon.

After the ceremonial guard of honour, the Prime Minister had a 45-minute meeting withKing Jigme Khesar NamgyelWangchuk in the “Throne Room”. The respective delegations were introduced to the two leaders prior to the talks.

From there,Dr. Singh headed for the Gyalyong Tshokhang or the National Assembly building for a meeting with his Bhutanese counterpart Jigmi Y. Thinley in the Prime Minister’s Office. Both sides were accompanied by their respective delegations, and details of the meeting are expected to revealed later today by ForeignSecretary Shiv Shankar Menon at a news briefing.

The Prime Minister is scheduled to attend a banquet hosted by Prime Minister Thinley at the Taj Tashi Hotel, the last event for the day. (ANI)

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