Prayers usher in royal birthday celebrations
Hakim Hayat & Azlan Othman

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam last night consented to join hundreds of congregants at thanksgiving prayers to mark the benevolent monarch's 66th birthday at the Jame' 'Asr Hassanil Bolkiah in Kampong Kiarong.

Also joining His Majesty in the royal entourage were HRH Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, HRH Prince Haji Jefri Bolkiah, HRH Prince 'Abdul Malik and HRH Prince 'Abdul Mateen.

Upon arrival, His Majesty was greeted by Pengiran Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohammad bin Pengiran Haji Abdul Rahman, Minister of Religious Affairs; Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Haji Awang Othman, Minister of Home Affairs; and members of the National Executive Committee of His Majesty's 66th Birthday Celebrations.

Members of the public took the opportunity to greet the monarch and shake hands with the royal entourage upon their arrival inside the mosque.

The royal entourage joined the congregants in performing the mass Maghrib prayer led by Pehin Orang Kaya Paduka Seri Utama Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Hj Awg Salim bin Hj Besar. This was followed by the Sunnat Hajat prayer.

The ceremony proceeded with the recitation of Surah Yaasiin and Tahlil for His Majesty's late parents led by Pehin Orang Kaya Paduka Seri Raja Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Hj Awg Suhaili bin Hj Mohiddin.

The thanksgiving prayers were read by Pehin Datu Seri Maharaja Dato Paduka Seri Setia (Dr) Ustaz Hj Awg Abdul Aziz bin Juned, the State Mufti and this was followed by the mass Isyak prayer led by Pehin Datu Imam Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Hj Awg Abdul Hamid bin Bakal.

The thanksgiving prayers were held simultaneously in mosques in all the four districts last night.

Meanwhile, the nation celebrates the 66th birthday of His Majesty today with the traditional ceremonial parade at Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar 'Ali Saifuddin as well as the Audience and Investiture Ceremony at Istana Nurul Iman and the royal banquet in the evening.

The much-awaited get-togethers with the benevolent ruler will be held for four days in a row this year as the country will observe the holy month of Ramadhan with moon sighting set for this Thursday, July 19, 2012.

The get-together will begin in the Belait District at the Municipal Field area in Belait on July 16 followed by at the Community Hall Complex Field in Tutong on July 17, Community Hall Complex Field in Temburong on July 18 and finally on July 19 at Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar 'Ali Saifuddin for the Brunei-Muara District.

The theme for the Belait District get-together reads "Menyusur Tamadun Ilmu" which focuses on education while Tutong District will highlight culture, community and sports. As for Temburong District, the get-together focuses on a religious theme, 'Darussalam Bilhuda', while the Brunei-Muara District's theme 'Brunei Gemilang Meniti Zaman' focuses on economic activities.

The 66-time Khatamal Al-Quran or completion of the recitation of the Holy Quran by members of Mukim and Village Consultative Councils throughout the country is scheduled to be held on Saturday, July 28, 2012.

Festive stalls will also be set up. For Brunei-Muara District, the stalls will be set up at the empty car space opposite the Royal Regalia Building; Gerai Tudung Saji in Belait, empty space opposite Pengiran Muda Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah Hospital in Tutong and Taman Perayaan in Bangar, Temburong.

The Bandar Seri Begawan Municipal Department informed the public yesterday that for the night stalls in the capital, several air-conditioned and open stalls were set up, namely exhibition booths, retail stalls, take-away stalls, fruit as well as food and beverage stalls.

The organising committee also set up suraus for male and female worshippers, secretariat room and playground for children. The organising committee is inviting the public to the stalls from July 15-20 between 6pm and 12 midnight.

As the nation will soon observe the fasting month of Ramadhan, the stalls will continue as Ramadhan stalls beginning from 3pm till 12 midnight.

The Brunei-Muara District Office said that in view of the get-together on July 19, roads leading to Bandar Seri Begawan will be closed at 7am till the event ends. The public are urged to come to the capital before 7am to attend the event. - Borneo Bulletin (15 July 2012)