Development Philosophy of Bhutan
The Economists over the world claim that the key to happiness is receiving and relishing material development. Whereby Bhutan adheres to a completely different belief and advocates that developing material wealth doesn't essentially cause happiness. Bhutan is now trying to measure progress through Gross National Happiness rather than following the idea of Gross Domestic Product.
His Majesty the third Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuck expressed his view on the goals of development as creating “the people prosperous and happy.” Keeping this strong view in mind, the importance of “prosperity and happiness,” was highlighted within the King’s address on the occasion of Bhutan’s admission to the United Nations in 1971.
Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck said that the rich ones are not always happy while the happy ones generally considered themselves rich. While conventional development models focus on economic growth as the vital objective, the concept of Gross National Happiness is based on the principle that true development of human society happens successfully when material and spiritual development occur side by side to complement and reinforce each other.
Both the prosperity and happiness are given preference, however, the happiness is considered as more significant. The fourth King emphasized that for Bhutan “The Gross National Happiness” is more essential than “The Gross National Product”. The philosophy of Gross National Happiness has lately received international recognition. And that the UN has implemented a determination “recognizing that the gross domestic product does not adequately reflect the happiness and well-being of people,” and that “the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal”.
The 4 Pillars of GNH
Where is Bhutan?
Bhutan is a small landlocked country in Asia sandwiched between India in South with approximately 659 kilometers of borders and China in North with approximately 477 kilometers of border. It is located entirely within the Himalayan mountain range. It is an independent nation, with a total land area of 46,500 km² approximately and estimated population of 774,830. The Nepal to the west, the Bangladesh to the south, and the Myanmar to the southeast are other close neighbors.
Climate in Bhutan varies accordingly with its altitude. In the western Bhutan it is mostly affected by monsoons that bring between 60 and 90 percent of the region's rainfall. In the southern plains and foothills, it is humid and subtropical. The inner Himalayan valleys of the southern and central regions is temperate, and finally cold in the north with year-round snow on the main Himalayan submit.
Temperatures vary accordingly to its elevation. In Thimphu, located at 2,200 meters above sea level in west-central Bhutan, temperature range from approximately 15° C to 26° C during the monsoon season of June through September but drop to between about -4° C and 16° C in January. Most of the central parts of Bhutan experiences a cool, temperate climate year-round. And towards the south, a hot, humid climate helps maintain a fairly even temperature range of between 15° C and 30° C year-round (temperatures sometimes reach 40° C in the valleys during the summer in this region).
The annual precipitation in the north is only about forty millimeters with mostly snow. In the temperate central parts of Bhutan, average of about 1,000 millimeters is common yearly with about 7,800 millimeters per year in the humid, subtropical south, ensuring the thick tropical forest, or savanna.
There are four seasons in Bhutan:
Bhutan is bounded by India in South and Tibetan autonomous region of China in the North. It has a total area of about 46,500 square kilometers and spreads between meridians 89°E and 93°E, and latitudes 27°N and 29°N. It features three major geographic regions
Bhutan, The Land of Thunder Dragon.
In the 12th century, it is said that at the time of construction of a Tibetan monastery, a roll of thunder was heard. And this was interpreted to be the voice of a Dragon. Since then Dragon became the national symbol of Bhutan and also reflected in the national flag.
Bhutan is believed to be inhabited as early as 200 BC due to the presence of early stone implements discovered in the region. In the past, Bhutan was originally known by many names such as Lho Jong (The Valley of the South), Lho Mon Kha Shi (The Southern Mon Country of Four Approaches), Lho Jong Men Jong (The Southern valleys of Medical Herbs) and Lho Jong Mon Tsheden Jong (The Southern Mon valleys where Sandalwood Grows). And later it was called as Druk Yul (The Land of Drukpas); It was referred to the Drukpa sect of Buddhism which was the dominant religion in the region since that period.
In the 17th Century, after the arrival of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel from Tibet to Bhutan, the country was first unified. He defeated three Tibetan invasions to the country and established a comprehensive system of law and governance. But after his death, his power crumbled and the country plunged into in-fights and civil wars between the various local leaders. This continued until the establishment of Bhutan’s hereditary King. In 1907, the Trongsa Penlop, Ugyen Wangchuck successfully gained the control over people and with their support he was enthroned as Bhutan's first hereditary King. His Majesty the King Ugyen Wangchuck became the first Druk Gyelpo (Dragon King) and set up the Wangchuck Dynasty that still rules today.
Before we look into the Kings of Bhutan, let us look at some of the Legends first.
For about 1000 years, Bhutan had been remaining isolated considering its own policy. Conceivably this is the reason why most of Bhutan’s Legends remain clear and distinct.
Punakha Dzong, a monastic castle that was built at the meeting point of two rivers, that has been the winter capital of the nation over 300 years. It is said that Guru Rinpoche had blessed and predicted the construction of a fortress in this land. And when Rinpoche came to set up camp, he had a prophetic dream the same night that encouraged him to build the Dzong. There he stored a holy relic that he had brought with him from his monastery in Tibet. Due to this relocation of the relic, Tibetan attracted the monastery, however, Bhutanese successfully defeated it and this victory is now celebrated each year between February-March at the “sacred Victory Festival” in Punakha.
Chimi Lhakhang, a temple of pilgrimage for infertile women, is located in a hill of Punakha valley surrounded by paddy fields. It was built over an existing stupa created by the saint Drukpa Kunley.
Paro Taktshang, the Tigers Nest Monastery located in Paro valley at about 2950m above sea level, is one of the most remote monasteries in the world. It is the place where Guru Rinpoche landed jubilantly on the back of a flying tigress.
Kings of Bhutan
As the children inherit the goodness of their parent, Bhutan has always been blessed with the line of monarchs who were humble and ruled the nation with love like any parent’s love for their child. After the death of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel (who unified the nation), he recommended “dual system of government”. The Government control was divided into the civil administrative leader (Druk Desi) and religious leader (Je Khenpo).
However, this system ended after the Jigme Namgyel’s descendent Ugyen Wangchuck.
Sir Ugyen Wangchuck (Reign: 1907 to 1926)
Gongsa Ugyen Wangchuck ( born in 1862) succeeded his father Jigme Namgyel as the Penlop of Trongsa. His power base was in central Bhutan. He unified Bhutan by defeating political enemies through a period of civil wars and rebellions in the early 1880’s.
Under his rule, he developed a close relationship with the British by assisting with negotiations between British and Tibet. As a respect, the British Knighted Gongsa Ugyen Wangchuck in 1904. He was also entitled as Knight Commander of the Indian Empire so he was often known as Sir Ugyen Wangchuck. The British and Indian governments continued to honor him for his ability to build diplomatic relations.
In 1907, he was elected to be the hereditary monarch of Bhutan thus Bhutan’s first King. And on December 1907 he was enthroned with the title Druk Gyelpo(Dragon King). Despite having relation with the British and Indian, Bhutan continued its isolation for the other parts of the world.
He passed away in 1926 and was succeeded by his eldest son Jigme Dorji Wangchuck.
Jigme Wangchuck (Reign: 1962 to 1952)
Jigme Wangchuck (born 1905) became the second king of Bhutan after ascending the throne in 1926 upon the death of his father. Since a child, he was raised to be the successor to the throne under strict education in English and Hindi and schooled in Buddhist principles.
Under his rule, some significant changes were brought, he implemented administrative reforms within the nation and placed a hierarchical system where he had complete power over religious as well as non-religious system and appointed a head, Je Khenpo, to set up a central religious administrative body. Bhutan still remained isolated from the world and focused on the centralization of power.
In 1952, he passed away and was succeeded by his son Jigme Dorji Wangchuck.
Jigme Dorji Wangchuck(Reign: 1952 to 1972)
Jigme Dorji Wangchuck(born in 1929), became the third king of Bhutan after ascending the throne. He is known as the Father of modern Bhutan. He was also educated in English, Hindi and Buddhist principles and also spent some months in England during his youth.
Under his rule, Bhutan ended the journey of isolation with the realization of the need for international relations for the world to recognize Bhutan as a country and to protect its sovereignty. The foreign nations involved in the development of Bhutan. In 1862, Bhutan received technical assistance for the infrastructure development and educational scholarship as he joined the Colombo Plan. And soon became the member of the United Nation.
He understood that he needed to implement socio-economic reforms so the country could develop further. In 1956, he redistributed land to the landless while monasteries gave up land in exchange for financial support from the government and in 1961 drafted the countries first economic development plan. He also set up a modern judicial system with the countries first Council of Ministers. And established National Assembly who had the power to remove the king with the two-thirds majority thus towards the democratic nation.
He passed away in 1972 and was succeeded by his son Jigme Singye Wangchuck.
Jigme Singye Wangchuck(Reign: 1972 to 2006)
Jigme Singye Wangchuck(1955) became the fourth king of Bhutan by ascending the throne when he was just 17 years old(youngest monarch of Bhutan). He received the modern education system from India and the United Kingdom.
Under his rule, he continued to establish international relations. He also started the process of decentralizing his power and in 1998, the role of Prime Minister was created. In 2006, he announced the need for a democratic government and after a rigorous research, two years after the end of kings reign the Constitution was developed in 2008, the election was also held the same year which gave birth to the new system of government.
He also created a philosophy of GNH (Gross National Happiness) that emphasized how the development of the nation should be carried out taking into consideration the happiness of the people. During his reign, the country’s economic process also accelerated. Industries in raw, agriculture and hydropower were established, schools and roads were built to various places in the country, sent students to pursue overseas and also the first airline, Drukair became operational.
He created the history when he became the first king in Bhutan to abdicate his throne to his son, Jigme Kheser Namgyel Wangchuck in 2006.
Jigme Kheser Namgyel Wangchuck (Reign:2006 to present)
Jigme Kheser Namgyel Wangchuck (born in 1980) became the fifth king of Bhutan, coronated in a ceremony on November 1, 2008.
Exploring the people and the society of Bhutan.
Bhutan is a place where people live with motivation to smile each day. Though there are several groups of people divided by the way they live, people stay together as a nation.
Generally, Bhutanese people can be categorized into three main ethnic groups. The Tshanglas, the Ngalops, and the Lhotshampas.
The Tshanglas (commonly known as Sharchops) are considered the native inhabitants of eastern Bhutan. As per the historians, Tshanglas are the descendants of Lord Brahma and speak Tshanglakha. They are commonly found in the eastern part of the country covering Mongar, Trashigang, Trashiyangtse, Pema Gasthel, and Samdrup Jongkhar. Occupations include cultivation of maize, rice, wheat, barley and vegetables and rearing of domestic animals. The women also produce beautiful fabrics mainly of silk and raw silk by weaving.
The Ngalops (Tibetan origin) who migrated to Bhutan as early as the ninth century. They have settled mostly in the six regions of western Bhutan. Their spoken language is Ngalopkha, a polished version of Dzongkha, the national language of Bhutan. Agriculture is their main livelihood. The main cultivations include cereals such as rice, wheat, barley and maize along with a variety of other crops. They are popular for their Lozeys, or ornamental speech and for Zheys, dances that are unique to the Ngalops.
The Lhotshampas are mostly found in the southern foothills of the country. Their spoken language is Lhotshamkha (Nepali) and they practice Hinduism. Their society can be broken into various lineages such as the Bhawan’s, Chhetri’s, Rai’s, Limbu’s, Tamang’s, Gurung’s, and the Lepcha’s. Nowadays they are mainly focused on agriculture, raise domestic animals and cultivate cash crops like ginger, cardamom, and oranges.
The Bumthaps, Mangdeps, and Khengpas
The people of central Bhutan who speak Bumtapkha, Mangdepkha, and khengkha respectively. The Bumthaps focus on the cultivation of buckwheat, potatoes, and vegetables and also rear yaks and sheep and produce fabrics of wool and yak hair. The Mangdeps focus on the cultivation of rice, wheat, maize, vegetables, besides rearing domestic animals. The khengpas are also focused on agriculture much like the Mangdeps, however, they are also popular for the bamboo and cane craft.
The Kurtoeps are mostly settled in the eastern part of the country, specifically at Lhuentse and the villages are found spread along the banks of Kurichu. Women of Khoma are expert weavers and are known for their skill in weaving the grandiose Kushithara.
The Brokpas and the Bramis
The Brokpas and the Bramis are some kinds of a semi-nomadic community. They are inhabited in the two villages of Merak and Sakteng in eastern Bhutan. For the livelihood, they mainly depend on herding of yaks and sheep. They do not grow crops due to the high altitude zones where they inhabit. They have their own way of speech and unique dress that is made of Yak’s hair and Sheep’s wool. They are also good at cane and bamboo crafts.
The Layaps are settled towards the extreme north of the country and they speak layapkha. Similar to the Brokpas, they are also semi-nomadic and their livelihood is dependent upon Yaks and Sheep. They follow the barter system where they use the products of their herd animals in exchange for rice, salt and other consumables with the people of WangduePhodrang and Punakha.
The Doyaps are settled mostly in southern Bhutan. They are considered to be the native inhabitants of western and central Bhutan. They are the ones who over the years migrated and settled in the present areas in Dorokha. They also follow their own unique way of life with their own unique dialect and style of dress.
The Monpas of Rukha under Wangdue Phodrang are a small community who together with the Doyas is also considered the original settlers of central Bhutan. They have their own unique dialect but it is unfortunately slowly fading as they are now being immersed into the mainstream Bhutanese society.
Bhutan has a society free of class or a caste system. In the early 1950s, the Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck abolished slavery through a royal edict. Some organizations were established in the past to empower women but overall Bhutanese society has always maintained gender equality. Generally, Bhutan is an open and a good-spirited society.
To live in Bhutanese society, one must understand some of the accepted norms such as Driglam Namzha, the traditional code of etiquette which basically teaches people a code of conduct to adhere to as a member of respectful society.
The Bhutanese are kind of fun-loving people fond of songs and dances, friendly contests of archery, stone pitching, traditional darts, basketball, and football. The people are social who enjoy weddings, religious holidays and other events as the perfect opportunities to gather with friends and family and celebrate together.
Bhutan is a Buddhist country where most of its people practice Buddhism but apart from that Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam are also present. The Bhutanese constitution guarantees freedom of religion and citizens and visitors are free to practice any form of worship as long as it does not cause any issues on the rights of others.
Bhutan is a Buddhist country, its people are often referred to as the last stronghold of Vajrayana Buddhism. Actually, in the past, people followed Bonism, a religion that worshiped all forms of nature, remnants of which are still evident in some remote villages in the country and it was only in the 8th century, that Buddhism was first introduced by the Indian Tantric Master Guru Padmasambhava. With the visit of Guru Padmasambhava, Buddhism commenced by taking firm roots within the country which led to the propagation of the Nyingmapa (the ancient or the older) school of Buddhism.
Bhutanese culture is associated with Buddhist influence. The influence of religion is a major reason for Bhutan’s spiritual and cultural heritage. We can see the hundreds of monasteries, stupas, religious institutions, prayer flags and prayer wheels that makes Buddhism a creed that is still alive and will always be in the nation. This makes Bhutan a very pukka country (it is also because of the traditional woven apparel worn by the people), the typically refined architecture and the impressive cultural festivals, all of these together makes Bhutan into a unique cultural locale.
The people perform all the religious ceremonies and rituals regularly, they go on a pilgrimage on auspicious days, offering prayers and butter lamps to the god that they worship. Every year, the National and regional festivals that coincide with the seasons are conducted around the nation. And this cultural heritage is strongly promoted by the Bhutanese government.
With the development of the country, modernization is also being propelled generating Urban settlements, introduction of technologies. Yet we find most of the people living in the small villages practicing the traditional lifestyle, raring animals and farming for livelihood.
Bhutan is enhanced by a wide variety of elegant and colorful religious festivals celebrated throughout the country. These festivals leave an impression on all of the visitors that witness it. Every village has its own unique festival, known as annual Tshechu (religious festival). All of the festivals are a holy event where the attendees gain merit for their next life, and also they are joyful event drinking local alcohol arra lavishly.
Some of the common festivals in Bhutan are:
It was established during the 17th century with certain religious background. The monks and the village elders perform sword dances and other religious rites, wearing the most astoundingly bright and symbolical costumes and masks. Every form of dances has its own spiritual importance. They are meant to teach the visitors about the Buddhist teachings, the Dharma. It is believed to be freeing them from evil and protecting them from accidents on performing this.
The tshechus are conducted each year at the dzongs accordingly with the lunar calendar that last for about three to five days where everyone can attend it. The festival is remarked with music, color and dances, watched by people in their elegant Gho’s and Kira’s (national dress). It not only teaches the people but also serves as a form of social garhering and communication amongst people.
The dromchoes are conducted at the early spring at the Punakha dzong in honor of Mahakala (the protecting spirit of Punakha) and are dedicated to the protecting deities of Bhutan’s different drukpas (districts). With the Combat cantos, songs and dances, the Marching Ceremony are also performed, and are executed by the traditional military called Pazaps.
Festivals in Bhutan are preset but in some places that may change, for the confirmation it’s better to consult with the authorities of the different dzongs or dzongkhags or the Bhutan Tourism Corporation Limited.
Bhutanese follow simple traditional eating habits. The people generally eat with hands directly. All the family members sit on the wooden floor for dinning and the head of the household is served first and usually the women (especially the mother) serve the food. Before every meal certain prayer is offered and a small morsel placed on the floor as an offering to the local spirits and deities. With the change in time, people in the urban areas have started to use dining tables and the cutlery.
Traditionally earthenware’s were used for cooking, but with the change in time, easy availability of modern goods, pots and pans have largely replaced their use. Typically, a Bhutanese meal includes red rice, Ema Datshi (a curry made of chilli and cheese), pork, beef curry or lentils.
In Bhutan the birth of a child is considered as a blessing and the child is valued as progenitors of the future thus do not discriminate on the child’s gender. The extended family and guests are not allowed to visit during the first three days after the birth and on the third day, a short purification ritual is performed. Only after this, the visitors are welcomed to visit the new born child and mother. Traditionally various gifts ranging from dairy products to cloth and money are offered.
For naming the child, it’s usually entrusted to the head lama (Buddhist priest) of the local temple. The mother and the child receive blessings from the local deity (natal deity) and traditionally the child is named in association with the deity. Some are named after the day that they are born at.
In accordance to the Bhutanese calendar, a horoscope is written based on the time and date of the birth.
In the past, arranged marriages were common and many married among their relatives. In eastern Bhutan the cross-cousin marriages were most common but this practice is now decreasing amongst the literate masses and most marriages depend on the choice of the individuals. Marriages are simple and usually kept low-key. However, some rituals are performed for lasting unions between the bride and the bridegroom. And in the end, they are offered with traditional offerings of scarves along with gifts in the form of cash and goods by their parent and the relatives.
Generally, in the Western Bhutan the husband goes to live in his wife’s house after marriage while the practice in Eastern Bhutan is for the wife to move into the husband’s home. Or they may also choose to live on their own.
Bhutan’s mythology is expressed in many different ways around the country. Most remarkable is the name its inhabitants have for the kingdom, Druk Yul, that literally means ‘land of the thunder dragon’ in Bhutanese mythology. The fierce white dragon can be found in the national flag and weapon and during the Tsechus (Bhutan’s most important festivals) – there are many expressions of and references to the dragon. And Bhutan’s leaders are known as the Druk Gyalpo: the dragon kings.
Every part of the national flag of Bhutan is symbolic for the country’s general features. The flag is divided diagonally with a white dragon across the middle. The white color is an expression of purity and loyalty and also represents the diverse ethnic and linguistic groups. The dragon’s growling mouth, that is an expression of the strength of many deities, protects the jewels which are hold in his paws which represent prosperity, wealth and perfection. The upper division with yellow color of the flag represents the king’s secular power and fruitful action in both religious and state affairs. The lower division with orange color represents the spiritual power and religious practice of Bhutan’s Mahayana (tantric) Buddhist religion.
Bhutan’s national emblem is a double diamond thunderbolt (dorji) placed above a lotus (lotus symbolize purity, and sovereign power is expressed by the jewel), which is framed by two dragons (a male and a female dragon that represent Bhutan’s name, which is proclaimed with their great voice of thunder) and overcome by a jewel. The congruence between religious and secular power is symbolized by the double diamond thunderbolt. And is contained within a circle.
In Bhutan 17th December is celebrated as the national day. on this date in 1907, Ugyen Wangchuck was enthroned to be the Bhutans first King.
To look into:
National flower: Blue poppy
National tree: Cypres
National bird: Raven
National animal: The takin
National sport: Archery
Bhutan is rich in terms of its tradition that has been well preserved since centaury. Its people wear some unique dresses that is mostly hand-woven. Some machine-made dresses are also available for the daily use but on special occations they wear their best hand-woven clothes.
The women wear Kira, an ankle length dress made of finely woven fabrics with traditional and beautifully colored patterns. Kira is worn with a combination of a wonju (blouse) and a tego. Wonju is worn under the kira held in place with koma (silver buckle) on shoulder. Finally, tego is worn from outside and some jewelries to make it complete.
Man wear Gho, tied in place on waist by kera (hand-woven belt). As a result, a large pouch is formed where man can carry their items like betel nut and a bowl. On the foot, covered with a long socks and shoe or traditional hand-made boots.
Bhutan is a mountainous place, and thus contain a variety of species habituated in the forest of Bhutan. It is one of the last remaining biodiversity hotspots in the world, forest cover has now increased to over 72% of the country, with 60% of the country under protection.
The availability of flora and fauna in Bhutan is incomparable due to conservation and its wide altitudinal and climatic range. Basically, the country can be divided into three zones:
Despite being a small country with small population, Bhutan has seen much economic development in recent years and the economy is growing rapidly.
Some number of Bhutanese population is still illiterate and settled in the remote areas with almost 1 in 5 living in poverty line while the majority of them have shelter and are self-sufficient. With the rapid modernization, the living standard of the people have also improved, the villagers have access to all the basic amenities such as education, running water, basic healthcare, electricity, telecommunication network and are connected by roads.
The Bhutanese economy is primarily agricultural. The income of farmers is supplemented through the sale of animal products such as cheese, butter and milk. All over the country farmers market are common, where farmers bring their products for sale. Thus the people get fresh, organic, local products that contribute towards healthy way of living.
Basically, staple crops include rice, maize, wheat and buckwheat while cash crops are potatoes, apples, oranges, cardamom, ginger, and chilies. In the capital, a fruit based industry has been built where nearby farmers can sell their products and earn additional revenue.
The rich biodiversity of Bhutan provides the country with abundant forest resources and this has brought about the development of a vast cane and bamboo handicraft industry. Craftsmen weave a number of beautiful and creative items out of bamboo and cane such as hats, backpacks, floor mats and traditional bowls.
The Bhutanese Tourism Industry began from 1974 which, with time, has grown to become, a major contributing factor to the Bhutanese economy creating enormous employment opportunities and generating additional revenue for the government.
Due to its fast flowing, glacier-fed rivers, Bhutan has massive potential to produce hydroelectricity. With the construction of several major dams, the power sector has been the biggest contributor of the economy of Bhutanese. some of the of the existing mega projects in the country are the Chukha Hydro Power Corporation, the Tala Hydro Power Corporation, the Baso Chu Hydro Power Corporation and the Kurichu Hydro Power Corporation, under the authority of Druk Green Power Corporation. They generate 1500 MW of power, most of which is exported to our neighboring country India With its verdant water resources, Bhutan still has the capability to come up with another 30,000 MW of electricity. However, the government is proceeding cautiously with new construction projects in order to minimize the impact upon the surrounding areas.
Another major contributor to national revenue is the manufacturing industries. With the industrial sector established in Pasakha, small scale industries such as cement plants, calcium and carbide, steel and Ferro silicon, Coca Cola and also wood based industries has started to develop.
In Bhutan, art remains as an important part of life that retains the purity and handcraft of ancient times. Each piece that they create represents the religious experience, that connects them with something that enlightens them creatively. The traditional arts of Bhutan are known as zorig chusum where ‘zo’ is for the ability to make, ‘rig’ is for the science or craft and ‘chusum’ means thirteen.
Let us look at these thirteen traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan.
In Bhutan, the textile industry is an integral part of life and the culture. Bhutanese weaving tradition is rich in mythology. The tales and songs describe the art of weaving which is widely practiced by the people especially the women of eastern Bhutan as an alternative source of income. They are skilled at weaving clothes and some of the most highly prized textiles from cotton, raw cotton, and silk with some complex themes or pattern woven into the cloth. Earlier, textiles were paid as a form of tax to the government instead of cash. The people from the western part of the country traveled all the way down to Samdrup Jongkhar for the sale of their products (basically barter system, where people exchange their products with the products of their need).
In the eastern district of Lhuntse specifically Khoma village the women are the ones that earn for their household as they are said to be the best weavers in Bhutan. Bumthang also weaves Yathra from the hair of domestic animals. And the men, they help their women in spinning yak hair and sheep wool into thread. Bhutanese weavers use four types of looms:
The political system of Bhutan has evolved over time together with its tradition and culture. It has developed from a fragmented and a disoriented rule of the different regions by local chieftains, lords and clans into the parliamentary democracy we have in place today.
The first move towards a systematic scheme of governance came in 1616 with the arrival of Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyal from Tibet. He introduced the dual system of governance with the Je Khenpo as the spiritual head of the nation and the Desis, as the head of the temporal aspects.
But a major breakthrough came about in 1907 when the people unanimously enthroned Ugyen Wangchuck as the fist hereditary King of Bhutan. He was the man who had proven his mettle by banding together the different Dzongpons and Penlops (governors of fortress), ending centuries of strife and bringing much needed stability and peace to the country. Since then, the country has been ruled by successive monarchs of the Wangchuck dynasty.
In a move to ensure a more democratic governance of the country, the Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck instituted the National Assembly (Tshogdu) in 1953. Every gewog has an elected member representing it in the National assembly. It became a platform where the people’s representatives enacted laws and discussed issues of national importance.
The establishment of the Royal Advisory Council (Lodoe Tshogde) in 1963 as a link between the king, council of ministers and the people was another move towards democratization. It also advised the king and the council of ministers on important issues and ensured that projects were implemented successfully.
The institution of Dzongkhag Yargay Tshogdu (District Development Assembly) in 1981 and Gewog Yargay Tshogchung (County Development Assembly) in 1991 by the Fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck was another move towards decentralization.
But the devolution of the power of the King in 1998 to the cabinet ministers was the highest form of decentralization. The King, thereafter, began to serve as the Head of the State while the government was managed by the Prime Minister.
In November 2001, on the advice of the Fourth king, a committee chaired by the Chief Justice of Bhutan, was formed to draft the constitution of Bhutan. The constitution was launched in 2008 and with it a parliamentary democracy introduced. The progression from Hereditary Monarchy to that of a Parliamentary Democracy has been a carefully managed process that culminated in 2008 when Bhutan held its first elections country wide. The Druk Phunsum Tshogpa was mandated by the people to head the new government with a major victory with 45 elected members, Lyonchen Jigme Y Thinley steered the government with just two opposition members from the People’s Democratic Party in 2008.The term of DPT (Druk Phuensum Tshogpa) has ended and people have chosen PDP (People’s Democratic Party) on 13th July 2013 as the new government.
The organs of the Bhutanese government comprise of the Legislature, Judiciary and the Executive. The ruling political party, the opposition and the National Council now forms the legislative body.
Dzongkha is used as the official language in Bhutan which literally means ‘the language spoken in the dzongs and administrative centers in all the districts of Bhutan’. Rooted from the Old-Tibetan language, spoken by the people of Western Bhutan. The first edition of a book was published in 1992, that described the grammar of Dzongkha. Besides Dzongkha there are two major languages spoken by Bhutanese: Sharchokpa that is spoken in Eastern Bhutan and Nepali that is spoken in Southern Bhutan.
Bhutan is linguistically rich due to the geographical location of the country which forced the inhabitants of the country to live in isolation but also contributed to their survival. There are 19 dialects and languages spoken throughout the country. In the current years, English is used as the instruction language in schools and therefore widely spoken.
We the Bhutan Dyang Advanture team comprise of various groups of people with the knowledge of different languages and we make sure that the travelers do not face difficulties while communicating with the people of Bhutan. Our guides are well trained translators, who responsibly make sure the travelers understand what they want to.
Travel around the country and not only gain the visual experience but also get to know various forms of dialect that the people of Bhutan practice in day to day life.
Every region in Bhutan has its own specialty in terms of food and type of meal they serve. The dairy foods especially butter and cheese made from cow and yaks milk are most common. Bhutan has a combination of vegetarian and non-vegetarian population. A wide variety of fresh vegetables are made available in the market by the farmers. Meat like pork, beef, goat, mutton and yak, fish and the poultry like chicken is consumed in the form of curry (tshoem). Every meal is accompanied by steamed or boiled white rice or the red rice (eue chum). Besides rice, buckwheat and maize are also used sometimes.
Typically, Bhutanese cuisine are spicy, chilies are not added as a seasoning rather considered as a valuable vegetable. Thus Bhutanese dishes are extravagantly spiced with the dried or fresh green and red chilies. And this being the favorite ingredient of Bhutanese the national dish comprises of chilies cooked in cheese which is commonly called as ema datsi (ema=chilli; datsi=cheese). Everyone has their own interpretations of this recipe and it will definitely grip the consumer.
The professional chef of Bhutan focus on a variety of western less spicy dishes thus if you prefer non spicy dishes a variety ranging from Continental to Chinese, and from Bhutanese to Tibetan and Indian cuisine is available. Most of the hotel follow buffet style of serving meals.
The people don’t drink water from the direct source, rather prefer drinking mineral water or the boiled water. Tea is one of the most popular beverage amongst the Bhutanese, despite people also prefer suja (salted butter tea) at the social occations. The chang (local beer) and arra (a spirit distilled from rice, maize, wheat or barley) are the common alcohol in Bhutan. Except for Tuesday (i.e the dry day) they are easily available in bars and the legal drinking age is 18 years and above. Generally, Doma (betel nut) is offered as a customary gesture of greeting. Bhutan is the world’s only country where public smoking is prohibited since 2004. It is allowed to import tobacco for indoor use but with the tax of 100%.