By P. Marilyn & James Kon
Prominent repeated calls of "Daulat Kebawah Duli Tuan Patik" were sounded in unison amid the echoes of a 21-cannon salute, marking the start of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam's grand 60th Birthday celebration during the Ceremonial Guard of Honour parade at the Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar 'Ali Saifuddien in the heart of the capital yesterday morning.
A large crowd comprising Brunei citizens and residents as well as tourists gathered at the perimeters of the Taman to witness the once a year event. Some were seen arriving as early as 6am to secure a good spot and the best viewing point for the event.
Lining the route leading to the Taman, thousands of enthusiastic schoolchildren were seen joyously waving a sea of yellow mini national flags with the continuous beating of "Hadrah" to welcome the arrival of His Majesty.
Accompanying His Majesty were His Royal Highness Prince General Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince, and His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah.
The arrival of His Majesty was welcomed by YAM Pengiran Lela Cheteria Sahibul Najabah Pg Anak Hj Abdul Aziz, Pehin Datu Kerma Setia Dato Paduka Seri Zainuddin bin Jalani, Commissioner of Royal Brunei Police Force, and Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General Dato Paduka Seri Hj Awg Halbi bin Hj Md Yussof, Commander of Royal Brunei Armed Forces.
The national anthem was then performed by the brass band of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces and the Royal Brunei Police Force.
His Majesty then proceeded to inspect the Guard of Honour parade, participated by more than 600 uniformed personnel comprising personnel of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces, the Royal Brunei Police Force, uniformed departments and volunteer organisations.
The Guard of Honour was followed by a slow and fast pace march past by Royal Brunei Armed Forces and Royal Brunei Police Force personnel.
Marching back onto the field, the Guard of Honour gave three shouts of "Daulat Kebawah Duli Tuan Patik".
The grand finale of the ceremony featured an air display of helicopters emitting colourful smoke filling up the sky following behind a CN-235 aircraft from the Royal Brunei Air Force.
Brunei Darussalam has been celebrating His Majesty's 60th Birthday since early July and festivities - including traditional boat races, concerts, fireworks displays and feasts - will continue through August. Huge billboards and portraits of the Monarch have been erected nationwide.
- Borneo Bulletin
(16th July 2006)