Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Shabdrung Nawang Namgyel


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Bhutan Flag
A very striking flat which is divided diagonally. The yellow upper part of the flat represents the secular authority and mindful action of the king, and the lower orange section represents Buddhism and the monastic community. A white thunder dragon roars at the centre of the flag and in its mighty claws holds a collection of jewels representing Bhutan's spiritual, cultural, and environmental wealth.

Shabdrung Nawang Namgyel was born in 1594. He was persecuted as a young man at Tibet's Ralung Monastery, and he fled to the Himalayan land of Bhutan by following Bhutan's protective diety, which appeared to him in the form of a raven. Once in Bhutan, the Shabdrung became the spiritual leader of its people and began unifying the country by building dzongs and creating taxes and laws. He was the one who initiated the policy of national dress and celebrated the rich history of Buddhism through the colourful tsechu dance festivals. These festivals are featured by the various masked dances performed by the monks or and villagers.

Shabdrung built Drukyel Dzong in 1649 to celebrate Bhutan's repeated victories over the Tibetans. The dzong is like a fortress, and over the years, had protected the locals from any invasions. The dzongs were impenetrable from the outside and thus protected the people who sought refuge inside.

The dzongs were lit by butter lamps, and so in 1951, a big fire torched and destroyed the Drukyel Dzong. Today, it is only the ruined fortress that people who might want to make a stop, especially before they start their trek to Jomolhari, or even attempt the strenous Snowman Trek.

Civil Wars broke out after Shabdrung's death. Ugyen Wangchuk was elected as the first king in 1907, after he had shown true leadership in mediating a dispute between Tibet and the British, as well as military prowess in defeating local uprisings.

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