For centuries Bhutan was under isolation until in 1616 Ngawang Namgyel came from Tibet, first united our country and he came to be known as the spiritual leader. Buddhism was already introduced in Bhutan in the 7thcentury by Guru Rinpoche or the Padmasambhava which helped it become the integral part of the culture ever since.
After the last civil war in Bhutan (1864), Ugyen Wangchuk was elected the first hereditary king. The real isolation of Bhutan ended in the 1960s under the reign of its third king Jigme Dorji Wangchuk who is still respected as the modern king of Bhutan.
The first satellite TV was first introduced in the year 1999. Bhutan became a democratic country in 2008 after the fourth king Jigme Singye Wangchuck signed its first ever constitution in 2005.He was the one who continued his father’s effort to develop the economy at the same time preserving its rich and unique cultural tradition through what is known as GNH. It is a belief where Bhutan pursues for the country’s happiness more than it’s GDP through preservation of its rich cultural tradition, equitable and sustenance development, preservation of its rich natural environment and through good governance which are also known as the four pillars of GNH.
The kira (Dzongkha: Wylie: dkyi-ra, dkyis-ras) is the national dress for women in Bhutan. It is an ankle-length dress consisting of a rectangular piece of woven fabric. It is wrapped and folded around the body and is pinned at both shoulders, usually with silver broaches, and bound at the waist with a long belt. The kira is usually worn with a wonju (long-sleeved blouse) inside and a short jacket or toego (Dzongkha: Wylie: stod-go) outside.
The gho (Dzongkha: Wylie: go, gos) is the traditional and national dress for men in Bhutan. Introduced in the 17th century by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel to give the Bhutanese a more distinctive identity, it is a knee-length robe tied at the waist by a cloth belt known as the kera (Dzongkha: Wylie: sked-rags). On festive occasions it is worn with a kabney.
The government of Bhutan requires all men to wear the gho if they work in a government office or school. Men are also required to wear the gho on formal occasions. In its modern form, the law dates from 1989, but the driglam namzha dress code is much older.
National Flag of Bhutan
The national flag of Bhutan (Dzongkha: Wylie: hpha-ran-sa-kyi dar-cho) is one of the national symbols of Bhutan. The flag is based upon the tradition of the DrukpaLineage of Tibetan Buddhism and features Druk, the Thunder Dragon of Bhutanese mythology. The basic design of the flag by Mayum C The national flower of Bhutan is the Himalayan blue poppy (Meconopsis horridula). In Bhutan, it grows to a height of 1 meter on the rocky mountain terrain, above the tree line at altitudes of 3500m to 4500m. Bhutanese tradition links this flower with the yeti of lore. The flower was discovered in 1933 by British botanist George Sherriff in remote part of Sakteng in eastern Bhutan.
The Himalayan cypress (Cupressus torolusa) is the national tree of Bhutan. They are associated with religion, and may often be found near the religio
us structures and in the temperate zone between altitudes of 1800m and 3500m. To the Bhutanese, its ability to survive on rugged terrain represents bravery and simplicity. The national bird is the raven. As noted above, it the most prominent component of the royal crown. In Bhutan, the raven represents the deity Gonpo Jarodongchen, the raven-headed Mahakala, one of the country’s chief guardian deities. The Bhutanese credit the raven with having guided the founder of Bhutan, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, to victory during the invasion from Ü-Tsang (Tibet) in the seventeenth century.
The national animal is the ‘Takin’ (Burdorcas taxicolor). This bovid is also associated with religious history and mythology. Today it is a rare animal, and its conservation status is “vulnerable.” It has a thick neck and short muscular legs. It lives on bamboo, traveling in groups at elevations around 4000m on the northwestern and far northeastern parts of Bhutan.
The national flower of Bhutan is the Himalayan blue poppy (Meconopsis horridula). In Bhutan, it grows to a height of 1 meter on the rocky mountain terrain, above the tree line at altitudes of 3500m to 4500m. Bhutanese tradition links this flower with the yeti of lore. The flower was discovered in 1933 by British botanist George Sherriff in remote part of Sakteng in eastern Bhutan.
Archery in Bhutan (Dzongkha: (da); Wylie: mdaa; “arrow,” “archery”) is the national sport of the Kingdom. Archery was declared the national sport in 1971, when Bhutan became a member of the United Nations. Since then, the popularity of Bhutanese archery has increased both inside and outside Bhutan, with a measure of government promotion. Bhutan also maintains an Olympic archery team. Previously, competitions were held only at dzongkhag and gewog levels, however modernly, archery tournaments and competitions are held throughout the country. Archery is played during religious and secular public holidays in Bhutan,local festivals (tsechu), between public ministries and departments, and between the dzonkhag and the regional teams. Archery tournaments and performances have also become a significant point of interest for tourism in Bhutan.
(Dzongkha:Wylie: ‘brug-zas) employs a lot of red rice (like brown rice in texture, but with a nutty taste, the only variety of rice that grows at high altitude), buckwheat, and increasingly maize. The diet in the hills also includes chicken, yak meat, dried beef, pork, pork fat and mutton. Soups and stews of meat, rice, ferns, lentils, and dried vegetables spiced with chili peppers and cheese are a favorite meal duri
ng the cold seasons. Zow shungo is a rice dish mixed with leftover vegetables. Ema datshi, made very spicy with cheese and chili peppers (akin to chili con queso), might be called the national dish for its ubiquity and the pride that Bhutanese have for it. Other foods include jasha maru, a chicken dish; phaksha paa, thukpa, bathup and fried rice. Popular snacks include momo(dumplings), shakam eezay and liver. Dairy foods, particularly butter and cheese from yak and cow, are also popular, and indeed almost all milk is turned to butter and cheese. Popular beverages include butter tea, tea, locally brewed ara(rice wine) and beer. Spices include cardamom, ginger, chili peppers, thingay (Sichuan pepper), garlic, turmeric and caraway. When offered food, one says meshu meshu, covering one’s mouth with the hands in refusal according to Bhutanese manners, and then gives in on the second or third offer.
- Ara (drink)
- Bhutanese red rice
- Ema datshi (also spelled “Ema Datse”)
- Ngathrek Golop Lhakpa
- Tsheringma tea
- Yak butter