Culture & Tradition
Bhutan, one of the world’s oldest cultures, is dedicated to preserving its traditions and culture to defend national sovereignty. The country maintains a balance between modernization and preservation, focusing on etiquette and manners. “Driglam Namza”, a term for custom and culture preservation, emphasizes etiquette and manners, such as dress, speech, and eating. Horoscopes are highly valued by Bhutanese people, and rituals and ceremonies are conducted according to them. Bhutanese culture is characterized by Dzongs, monasteries, stupas, chotens, prayer flags, and prayer wheels.
Bhutanese childbirth is celebrated without gender distinction, with outsiders visiting after three days due to the purification ritual. Marriages are performed among relatives but are now less popular due to personal reasons. Bhutanese view death as an expensive affair, performing rituals to aid the departed soul in rebirth and erecting prayer flags for a good life.
The country’s largest colorful festival, Tshechu, is celebrated in dzongs, monasteries, and temples, featuring masked ritual dances based on Guru Rinpochoe, Buddha, and local deities. People gather from various parts of the country to witness the event, wearing their finest national dress and jewelry. Tshechu ends with a display of large scroll paintings of gurus or deities, believed to reveal sins committed by the wearer.
The Ngalop, Tibetan descendants of Bhotia, settled in western and northern Bhutan around the 9th century and introduced Buddhism. The Sharchop, an Indo-Mongoloid people, settled in the eastern region of Bhutan, and the Lhotshampas, Nepali-born southern Bhutanese, are Hindus and follow various schools. Bhutan has a growing number of Christians and Muslims, with a predominantly Roman Catholic population. The Constitution Act of 2008 and the Religious Organizations Act of 2007 ensure freedom of thought, conscience, and religion in Bhutan.