The Buddhist Kingdom of Bhutan lies between China (Tibet) to the north and northwest, and India to the south. With an area of 38,394 square km., Bhutan is populated with 552,996 approximately making it one of the least populated nations. Bhutan follows the beliefs in The Drukpa Kagyupa school of Mahayana Buddhism which provides great essence and value and history to the country. Bhutanese have protected its unique heritage and long lived culture.
Since 1974 when the gates of Bhutan were opened to the world, it became one of the world’s exclusive tourist destinations. Being a land locked country surrounded by Himalayas the country has preserved and is still maintaining ad valuing its rich customs. Country like no other, Bhutan is also known as the last Shangrila meaning the last paradise on earth.
Culture & Tradition
As part of Bhutan’s effort to preserve its culture, citizens of Bhutan are required to follow a dress code in public, called Driglam Namzha. It is a manner and etiquette as what to wear, how to eat, talk and bow down before the government officials and the clergy. National dress is compulsory – the knee-length wrap-around “gho” for men and the ankle-length dress known as the “kira” for women.
The People & Society
The Three main ethnic groups, the “Sharchops”, “Ngalops” and the “Lhotsampas” (of Nepali origin) make up today’s Drukpa population. The earliest residents of Bhutan are the Sharchops whose origin can be traced to the tribes of northern Burma and northeast India. The Ngalops migrated from the plains of Tibet and brought Buddhism into the land. The other minority groups are the Bumthaps and the Khengpas of Central Bhutan, the Kurtoeps in Lhuentse, the Brokpas and the Bramis of Merak and Sakteng in eastern Bhutan, the Doyas of Samtse and finally the Monpas of Rukha villages in WangduePhodrang. Together the multiethnic Bhutanese population number just over 700,000.
Arts & Crafts
Bhutan is proud of its artistic heritage and produces works of excellent quality and great artistic value. The Institute of Zorig Chosum in Thimphu is the premier institution of traditional arts and crafts set up by the Government of Bhutan with the sole objective of preserving the rich culture and tradition of Bhutan and training students in all traditional art forms.These practices have been gradually developed through the centuries, often passed down through families with long-standing relations to a particular craft.Bhutan’s artisans are skilled workers in metals, wood and slate carving, and clay sculpture. Artifacts made of wood include bowls and dishes, some lined with silver. Elegant yet strong woven bamboo baskets, mats, hats, and quivers find both functional and decorative usage. Handmade paper is prepared from tree bark by a process passed down from generations.
Gross National Happiness
The term “Gross National Happiness” was coined in 1972 by Bhutan’s fourth Dragon King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, who opened Bhutan to the age of modernization soon after the demise of his father, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. Gross National Happiness ( GNH) is a concept that measures a quality of life or social progress in terms of well being in a more holistic and psychological manner than the economic concept of Gross domestic product. The Buddhist ideals suggests that when material and spiritual development occur side by side complimenting and reinforcing each other while highly benefiting the development of the human society, that is GNH. Read more>>