Culture of Bhutan is among the oldest, most carefully guarded and well
preserved cultures in the world. People of Bhutan have always been careful
about conserving their centuries-old culture. Even in today's time, Bhutan
has been able to retain its old world charm. This is one of the reasons
Bhutan is loved by the tourists who want to pass their holidays in ethnic
Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan is one of the large towns in Bhutan. The
major profession of the people of Bhutan is farming, who live in small rural
villages. These villages are secluded and is accessible only by foot. But
now, as the people are getting educated, they are migrating to towns in
search of other occupations.
Bhutan has three main ethnic groups: the Sharchop in the east, which
originated from the tribes of northern Burma and northeast India; the
Ngalops in the west, who introduced Buddhism to Bhutan after migrating from
Tibet; and the Lhotsampas in the south, originally belonging to Nepal.
Bhutan has a population of around 700,000.
Language and Religion
Dzongkha is the official language of Bhutan, but many regions in Bhutan
still retain their native dialects due to their isolation. As people are
receiving education, especially those in urban areas, are getting more
familiar with the English language, which is also the medium of instruction
The Tantric form of Mahayana Buddhism is the official religion of Bhutan.
It is an important factor in the development of Bhutanese society. Bhutan
villages are strewn with temples and religious structures, which are present
along the roads and trails. One can also see many prayer flags on the hills
and high passes. Almost all the homes in Bhutan have a special area where a
small shrine is placed.
The national dress of Bhutan originated from the time of the first
Shabdrung. The men in Bhutan wear a "gho," a long knee-length robe
that is tied around the waist by a belt and the women wear a "kira,"
which is an ankle-length dress worn with a short jacket. To preserve the
ancient customs from being influenced by the West, the Bhutanese government
has made it compulsory for all Bhutanese to wear only their national dress
Bhutan's national sport is Archery, which is played here with unique
Bhutanese rules and equipment. The equipments like the traditional bows and
arrows are made out of bamboo and the teams of archers shoot at targets only
30 centimeters in diameter from a distance of 120 meters. Each team has a
noisy crowd of supporters who, as well as encouraging their own side and try
to out off the opposition.
Rice and Chilies are the major features of Bhutanese diet. The chilies are
considered as a vegetable and not just a spice. Bhutanese dishes are mostly
fiery and meats like pork, radish (daikon) that is dried beef mixed with
vegetables and yak meat, when it's in season, are widely eaten . A dish
called "ema datse," which is chilies and cheese, is one of the
favorite dishes in Bhutan.
Vegetables eaten in Bhutan are potatoes, fern, spinach, cabbage,
cauliflower, and onions which are often cooked with a small bit of fresh
cheese. Buckwheat is the main staple diet in central Bhutan, since it is
situated at an altitude that is too high to grow rice. The Bumthang region
of central Bhutan is known for its buckwheat pancakes and noodles. Beverages
popular in Bhutan are butter tea (suja) and ara, is a spirit distilled from
rice, wheat, or corn.
The Bhutanese architecture is characterized by structural designs and
exterior paintwork (shapes, colors, and patterns), representing national
identity and traditional meanings. Dzongs (fortresses), Gompas
(monasteries), Chortens (shrines/stupas), Lakhangs (temples) and houses are
some of the impressive and important structures in Bhutan.
Most of the monasteries and temples throughout Bhutan are built on steep
hillsides and in other remote places. This ensures that the monks get a
solitude and serenity. All the monasteries in Bhutan have some common
features though they also have their own design. Monasteries here have a
central chapel with statues and separate sleeping quarters for the monks.
There are prayer wheels around the outside and a round gold-colored ornament
on the roof. Temples are not very different from monasteries in design and
look, the only difference between them is that they do not house a monk
The traditional Bhutanese houses are made out of mud, bamboo, and wood. The
doors and windows of Bhutanese houses are decorated with animal, religious,
or floral designs. The houses here are usually of three stories, in the
ground floor cattle and other animals of the house reside, the second floor
is for storage, and the third floor is the living quarters which often has a
shrine. Hay, dry vegetables and meat are stored in the open-air area between
the third floor and the roof. And the most important feature of Bhutanese
houses is a prayer flag placed in the center of the roof.
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