Thimphu mourns

Thirty two people were cremated today. 18 of them were pilgrims who died in the recent plane crash in Nepal. The rest were from other parts of the country – they were bought to Thimphu when their families learnt that that His Majesty the King was personally supporting the cremations, and that His Holiness the Je Khenpo was presiding over the final rites.

Thousands of mourners, from all walks of life, gathered in Thimphu’s cremation grounds to stand by the bereaved families of the air crash victims. The outpouring of public support reconfirms how readily we are able, and willing, to come together, as one family, whenever we are faced with adversity.

But we are fortunate that we’ve been able to hold the cremations at all. The air crash, after all, occurred in the high mountains, in a foreign land, and barely five days ago. In most such cases it would be near impossible to bring home the remains of even one victim. Yet, in this case, every one of the bodies were retrieved from the crash site, transported to Katmandu, identified, embalmed and brought home, all in record time. And, given the circumstances, in a manner that caused as little suffering and grief as possible.

All this, and much more, was possible because His Majesty the King personally oversaw the relief work, and ensured that the victims and their families were given complete and unconditional support. The Gyalpoi Zimpoen’s office and government officials worked round the clock, in Nepal and at home, to make sure that the families of the victims would be able to provide funerals for their loved ones, at home, with dignity, and in accordance with our traditions and beliefs.

A terrible tragedy is coming to an end. But through it, I am reminded that we are indeed fortunate to be Bhutanese.