Day of joy on His Majesty's 61st birthday
By Sonia K.

Today, July 15, 2007, is His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam's 61st birthday. And people from all walks of life are expected to gather at the Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar Ali Saifuddien very early this morning to witness the traditional Royal Guard of Honour Parade in honour of His Majesty's 61st birthday.

Last night, His Majesty attended Maghrib and Isyak prayers as well as the reading of the Surah Yassin, tahlil and a thanksgiving prayer at the Jame' Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque. There were also similar ceremonies held at mosques and suraus nationwide.

This morning's parade will involve personnel from the Royal Brunei Armed Forces and the Royal Brunei Police Force. The occasion will peak with an air display of helicopters and aircraft of the Royal Brunei Air Force and most prominently, the call of "Daulat Kebawah Duli Tuan Patik" by parade participants and the people.

The morning parade would be followed by the audience and an investiture ceremony where His Majesty would accord honours on outstanding people with meritorious titles and awards at the Istana Nurul Iman. His Majesty will also address the nation in a much-awaited Royal Titah from the palace Throne Room. A state banquet will then be held in the evening followed by a display of fireworks.

As a reminder to the public, this morning, several roads leading to the capital will be closed from 6.30am onwards to ensure smooth running of the parade.

Today is just the beginning of one of many programmes lined up over the next two weeks for His Majesty's birthday celebration. Tonight, there will be a fireworks presentation by the Tiong Hwa community at the surroundings of the Istana Nurul Iman in the capital.

On top of this, the highlight of the royal celebration is the get-together ceremonies that will be held in all the four districts. The ceremony will give members of the public both young and old an opportunity to meet and greet His Majesty as well as other members of the royal family.

Residents in the Temburong District will have the chance to kickoff the first Get-together ceremony on July 17 at the district's 'Padang Komplex Dewan Kemasyarakatan'. Next will be the Tutong District's turn on July 19 at the district's 'Padang Komplex Dewan Kemasyarakatan'.

On July 21, it will be the Kuala Belait district's turn to celebrate the birthday of His Majesty in Kuala Belait's Taman Jubli in Jalan Maulana and last but not least, the Get-together ceremony will end in the Brunei-Muara District at the Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar 'Ali Saifuddien where a launching of the 'Mercu Dirgahayu 60' will be held.

Other events, which will also be held in conjunction with the Monarch's 61st birthday will be a two-week long 'Pasar Ria' which will start tonight and is located at the parking lot in front of the Royal Regalia in the capital, 'Majlis Ilmu 2007' on July 24 and a 'Malam Serumpun Seri 61' on August 4 at the Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar 'Ali Saifuddien in the capital just to name a few. A long list of programmes have been organised in the respective districts throughout the celebration. - Borneo Bulletin (15th July 2007)