Bhutan Celebrates Newborn Prince by Planting over 1 lakh trees

Tens of thousands of citizens of the tiny kingdom of Bhutan came together earlier this month to welcome their newborn prince with Buddhist symbols by planting 108,000 trees, each sealed with a prayer for the heir to the throne.

“In Buddhism, a tree is the provider and nourisher of all life forms, symbolizing longevity, health, beauty and even compassion,” said Tenzin Lekphell, who coordinated the initiative, called Tendrel in the local language. It wasn’t a coincidence that the Buddha attained enlightenment under a banyan tree, he added.

The number of trees planted was exactly 108,000, as “108” is a sacred number in Buddhism, denoting the cleansing of 108 defilements that impede beings from attaining enlightenment, Lekphell, who heads a private management institute, said. “Hence 108 beads in rosary.”

All 82,000 households in the country planted a tree, while the remaining 26,000 were planted by volunteers in special plantations in 14 districts.

“Each sapling encapsulates a prayer and a wish from the person who planted it to His Royal Highness the Prince so that just like the bountiful tree, the Prince also grows up healthy, strong, wise and compassionate,” Lekphell said.

Bhutan, a democratic monarchy, has a unique policy of “Gross National Happiness,” which balances economic growth with environmental conservation and the wellbeing of its people. Its constitution states that the country shall always keep 60 percent of its total area under forest cover.