108,000 trees have been planted across the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan to welcome the birth of a son to King Khesar and Queen Pema. Trees are sacred in Buddhism as they symbolise longevity, beauty, health and compassion - all wishes encapsulated as prayers for the royal child to grow up happy.
The initiative took place a month after the royal couple announced the birth of their first child. It was organised by politicians of both the ruling and opposition and has religious significance due to the number of trees planted.
"108 is a holy number in Buddhism which denotes the cleansing of 108 degradations that delay souls from attaining enlightenment, hence 108 beads in a rosary", said Tenzin Lepkhell, one of the coordinators. According to him, each of the 82000 households of the country planted a tree while the other 26000 trees were planted by volunteers.
For a country that broke a world record last year by planting over 49000 trees in an hour (beating a record set by India in 2012) and having a constitution that calls for 60% of the land to be under forest cover, it's no surprise how Bhutan's inherent desire of reforestation is a success story.
The Gross Happiness Index introduced by the current king's father in 1972 balances economic growth with environmental conservation and overall well being of the people. Despite being economically backward and dependent on
India for basic commodities, there is a lot Indians can learn from their Himalayan neighbour. For example, connecting happiness with cleaner surroundings and being passionate about environmental conservation no matter what our political alignments are.
Bhutan recently became a democracy but the people still look up to the monarchy for stability and prosperity. In line with royal celebrations, the country's Tourism Ministry has opened up a 'Happiness Garden'. It is meant to invite foreigner visitors to plant trees representing their home nation. The philosophy behind all this being that giving life to something that sustains life is the key to happiness.
"Bhutan is known as a country of happiness. To have a happiness garden is therefore logical. With this garden, we hope to bring the peoples of the world closer,” said Damchoe Rinzin, a spokesperson for the Tourism Council of Bhutan.
(Courtesy :* Indiatimes)