Oxford-educated Bhutan king weds commoner (Lead)October 13th, 2011 - 7:59 pm ICT by IANS
Punakha (Bhutan), Oct 13 (IANS) The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan Thursday crossed yet another historic threshold with its 31-year-old King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk entering into a wedlock with his commoner heartthrob, 21-year-old student Jetsun Pema at a lavish ceremony.
The Buddhist marriage rituals were held at the 17th century monastic fortress in Punakha, the former capital of Bhutan, with the Oxford-educated king coming down from his throne to place the crown on the head of the stunning Pema. Punakha is about 80 km from capital Thimphu.
And immediately the fortress reverberated with chants of Buddhist hymns by monks clad in maroon and yellow robes as the newlywed Pema was escorted by the king to the throne.
Former king Jigme Singye Wangcuk, who abdicated the throne in favour of his son and ushered in transition from absolute monarchy in the Himalayan kingdom, and his four queens as also the entire royal family were present to bless the newlyweds.
Jigme Singye Wangcuk, flanked by his four wives, handed the blessed, coloured scarves to the nervous-looking bride. The young groom wore a crown adorned with a raven’s head during the rituals in keeping with the tradition.
After the rituals, the king and the queen walked out of the fortress to greet thousands of people waiting to have their glimpse.
The king broke protocol to pat children on their head and shaking hands with the crowd outside the fortress. The king and the queen also greeted the guests by waving at them after the marriage rituals.
“Now we have a king and a queen, and for the Bhutanese people this is like a symbol of body, spirit and mind coming together. It is so important because we see it as reminding people of family values,” said Kinley Dorji, Bhutan’s information secretary.
Pema was dressed in a yellow-red jacket and skirt, and her crown glittered as a select 300 guests inside the fortress looked in awe as the deep-throated chanting of Buddhist hymns echoed in the fortress.
The king is thought to have known Pema, the daughter of an airline pilot, since she was a young girl. A biography released by the palace listed her interests as fine arts, painting and basketball.
Jetsun Pema, who was born in Thimphu June 4, 1990, stands pretty at 5 feet 10 inches.
She had joined the Lawrence School at Sanawar in Himachal Pradesh in 2006 and cleared her plus-two examination in 2008. Before joining Sanawar, she studied at St. Joseph’s Convent in Kalimpong in West Bengal and Changangkha Lower Secondary School and Lungtenzampa Middle Secondary School in Thimphu, Bhutan. She graduated from Regents College, London.
Pema comes from the Bumthang Pangtey family and her father, Dhondup Gyaltshen, is an airline pilot for the past 22 years. Earlier he was with Bhutan’s national airlines, the Druk Air, and now flies with Bahrain Airways. Jetsun Pema has two brothers and two sisters.
Indian guests at the royal wedding included Jyotiraditya Scindia, ambassador Pavan Varma, former foreign secretary Shyam Saran, former ambassador Dileep Mehta, the late Arjun Singh’s grandson Aishwarya Singh and his wife Devyani Rana, and journalists Karan Thapar and Malvika Singh.
The royal couple left for Thimphu by road in the afternoon even as thousands of people lined up along the roads to have a glimpse of the newlyweds.
King Jigme is widely revered in Bhutan, a nation of some 700,000 people that made a historic shift from absolute monarchy to parliamentary democracy in 2008.
King Jigme was enthroned as the monarch in 2006 after his father Jigme Singye Wangcuk abdicated the throne in favour of his son.
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