Tradition, culture and religion The unique phenomenon of the Bhutanese culture lies in its uniformity and its pristine nature, not because they are brand new, but because they have come a long way, and they are still unaffected. Culture here has been the plus point to the beautiful landscape the country has. This is another charm that has been attracting outsiders to visit the country. This has also inspired various writers from abroad to write books. Linda Leaming, an amazing writer , who totally fell in love with Bhutan writes “We just roll with time in Bhutan, squeeze or stretch it according to our needs” . People here are cultured to be contended with whatever little that they have, therefore they roll with time according to their needs. This has also to do with the Buddhist philosophy of contentment. The following are some of the insights of the Bhutanese tradition, culture and religion:
Language : The national language in the country is Dzongkha, although there are also some native dialects in the regions. Other than Dzongkha, English Language is the medium of instruction.
Dress : Our dress is all the way very unique from any others. They have been introduced from the times when a great leader and also a saint called Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel lived and unified the country. Men wear ‘gho’ a long knee-length robe that is tied around the waist by a belt and women wear ‘Kira’ an ankle-length dress worn with a short jacket like outer known as ‘Tego’.
Food: Any one is a good cook here as long as they can cook a good ‘Emadatsi’ (a hot curry made out of chilli and cheese).This is the all time favorite dish of the people here. ‘Suja‘ (salted butter tea) is served on all occasions. Rice and chillies are the major features in the Bhutanese diet, although there are also meat, poultry, cereals and vegetables. In fact, the farmers dry the red chillies for winter. Come autumn and the roofs turn red, the terraces yellowish and the sun bright. Autumn is all colors in the rural pockets of Bhutan. Like any other country, we have our own wine made out of rice, maize, wheat or barley called ‘Ara’. The annual pujas are incomplete without Ara.
Religion : Bhutan is a Buddhist nation on majority, although there are also people following some other religion. Prayer flags on the mountains are common and every region has similar ‘Lhakhangs’ (Monasteries), painted in white color with single red strip across the walls. The ‘Dzongs’ (fortresses) which were built many years ago still guard the mountains.
Architecture: We also have unique architecture which makes the place look different from any other places in the world. Traditionally Bhutanese houses are made out of mud, bamboo, and wood. The houses are either two or three storied. Earlier people used to keep their cattle in the ground floor, but most of the people do not do this anymore, since they are sensitized on the issues of health and hygiene. The second floor of the house is used to store grains and the third floor as the living room where they have the ‘Choesham‘ (shrine/alter). The houses have smaller sized prayer flags in tri colors of blue, red and yellow stripes over the white cloth piece. The roofs are given a new flag after every annual puja. Thus, a new flag on the roof is indicative of the annual puja being done. Bhutanese architecture portray the national identity and traditional meanings by their structural designs and exterior paintwork with the kind of shapes, colors and pattern they are in. These architectural designs are still very visible although these are fading in the urban centers. Dzongs (fortresses), Lhakhangs (Temple/monasteries), Chortens (shrines/stupas), and the traditional houses are some of the impressive and important structures in Bhutan.
SPORT: Archery is our national sport. This is played in our own rules and equipment. The traditional bows and arrows are made out of bamboo.