A foggy morning usually means one thing—a hot day—and this morning, it was unusually foggy in Seria where I live. Today, the residents of Belait district got an opportunity to meet and greet with the Sultan as His Majesty celebrated his 61st birthday in Kuala Belait who witnessed a vibrant display of colorful performances and confetti along with a massive crowd, each trying to get a good look at the event proceedings. The hot and sunny morning saw many with paper fans of various shapes and sizes including battery operated mini fan.
Past birthday celebrations have been held at a number of venues in the Belait district including the Brunei Shell Recreation Club (BSRC) but more often than not, it’s held at the vast padang of the Kuala Belait Recreation Club (KBRC). This year, it’s the Taman Jubli (Jubilee Park) a stone’s throw from KBRC and a smaller, intimate setup. His Majesty arrived in his usual manner donning a black leather jacket with custom embroidered “HB” on the top left [“HB” is short for Hassanal Bolkiah]
The event proceeded with the singing of the national anthem, ‘Allah Peliharakan Sultan’, followed by three loud cheers of ‘Daulat Kebawah Duli Tuan Patik’ (Long Live His Majesty), by His Majesty’s subjects. Prior to the field performances, Hj Mohamad Hj Abd Rahman, Belait’s district officer, led the people of Belait in congratulating the monarch on his birthday, including penghulus, heads of villages, mukims and longhouses.
He said that under the wise leadership of His Majesty, Belait has seen positive transformations to the development of the district, whereby the people continue to live in peace and harmony.
Some 2,050 performers participated in a special seven-segmented performance entitled ‘Nostalgia Seni Klasik Silam,’ which was laid out in the form of a narrated drama that told of a story of how the people and the district of Belait developed and progressed from a sleepy fishing village into a booming oil and gas industrial hub for the entire country.
Dressed in a myriad of colourful costumes, performers comprised of civil servants, students, youth associations, residents of various mukims and villages, welfare bodies as well as the private sector. – The Brunei Times
A recent addition to the Royal household, I was delighted to meet Pg Ak Khairol a sentiment no doubt shared by many Belait residents who had probably only seen him on TV during the Royal Wedding ceremony.
Photo gallery from this morning’s celebration in Kuala Belait. In the spirit of the celebrations, I stopped taking pictures and joined the feverish and high spirited crowd and managed to shake the hands of with His Majesty, the Crown Prince, Prince Azim and Prince Mateen (last time I was this close to Azim and Mateen was when I was photographer to HSBC’s Tri Xtreme Challenge 2006), two hand shakes short of the royal entourage which also included Prince Mohamed (Foreign Minister) and Prince Malek.
Additional resource: The Brunei Times “Belait receives HM with big fanfare“
Equipment: Canon EOS 5D, Speedlite 580EX-II, EF17-40mm L, EF100-400mm L, EF28-135mm
Wow, that must have been an amazing sight to see. I saw a CNN report on him a few years back, and the man’s lifestyle is beyond that of a dream.
Your photographs are beautiful. – AndrewMG