The Weekly Editorial
The celebration of the Hindu festival Dassai, or the festival of the good over evil, has become an integral part of our culture in recent times, and the government has even declared the day a national holiday.
While Bhutan is considered largely dominated by Mahayana sect of Buddhists, our constitution has mandated to protect all religions and people’s belief systems, thereby, leaving room for growth of individual faiths and belief systems –an integral thread that entwines modern democratic values in any system of governance.
Further, our developmental philosophy of ‘the Middle path,’ which is again interlaced with the precepts of ‘One Nation One People and Gross National Happiness,’ has been the driving force in our quest for development and modernization. While the world is faced with multitudes of issues, including those emanating from different cultures and belief systems, the whole of Bhutan largely represents a single family united under one caring family – The Monarchs – and living a close-knit community life.
One of the driving forces that unite all Bhutanese with her varied communities has been Their Majesties The Druk Gyalpos. In the eighties, His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo started the amalgamation of Bhutanese communities, especially those living in the South the Lhotshampas majority of who are Hindus, into the mainstay populace.
His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo always said the Lhotshampas were integral part of our country and that they should be absorbed fully. His Majesty even encouraged cross-community marriages, especially with Lhotshampas and rewards including monetary incentives were given to those who chose to marry.
The popular hindu festival of Dassai was also induced and accorded a holiday in our calendar by the Fourth King who always wished to amalgamate every Bhutanese as one under the banner of One Nation One People, and which was guided by the noble precepts of Tsa-wa-sum.
Today, His Majesty The Fifth Druk Gyalpo has taken the initiative, to bring all citizens under the umbrella of a single national family, to even greater heights and meaning. Every passing year His Majesty has been the first to partake in our Hindu communities’ festivals, the most important being the Dashain festivals.
Every year in the month of October, His Majesty partakes in the Dassai celebrations and sends personal gifts and blessed Tikas to members of the Bhutanese Hindu community who take huge pride in donning the Tika blessed personally by His Majesty The King. In addition, His Majesty has ordered for the construction of Hindu temples in major districts in the country, and has said that Buddhism and Hinduism shares common values and must flourish together.
This year too, His Majesty, after blessing the Tika in the capital, immediately left for a tour in the south where His Majesty celebrated the Dassai festivals with the people of the south. His Majesty then granted Dassai Tika to representatives of the Hindu community of Gelephu at the majestic Shivalaya Mandir which has today become a spiritual hub for the town’s residents, and even for devotees from across the border.
It is said that Dasain Tika granted by elders and parents convey special blessings and protection, hence, His Majesty taking utmost love and care in blessing them and distributing it among His subjects.
The Dasain also marks the victory of the Dharma King Rama, who was an emanation of Vishnu, over the demon Ravana- a victory of good over evil. Dasain tika from His Majesty carries special significance as His Majesty is regarded as an emanation of Vishnu for those celebrating Dasain.
Simply put, the celebration of Dassai in Bhutan is symbolic of our shared values – that is to live in perpetual communal harmony for all times to come.