A Closer Look At Bhutan’s Culture
Sandwiched between India, Nepal and China is Bhutan that is also commonly known as the ‘Land of Thunder Dragon’. Comprising of a vast Himalayan kingdom accompanied with the Dzong architecture, hills covered with mist and fog along with the valleys which are decorated with the colourful Buddhists’ flags- such is the beauty of Bhutan.
Well, from the very starting I was very curious about the spiritual essence and also the tranquillity that lies in Bhutan, however never got a chance to visit the same. But, luckily this year I along with my three friends formulated a plan to explore the unexplored gems of Bhutan. We flagged off our expedition from Delhi on a bike and then with ultimate halts in between (for sightseeing obviously!), we completed our journey. And you know what, now I am completely in the awe of this beautiful destination. Literally, this is my happy place! Bhutan has always grabbed my attention towards its plethora of mesmerizing beauty and also the harmony between its highly vegetative forests and the rugged mountains as well as terrains has literally left me speechless.
Luckily, whenever I got much time in Bhutan I went out to communicate with the locales and know more about their culture and traditions. Personally, I loved the way they talk and stayed happy all the time, also it is now inspiring me. Diving deep into the culture of Bhutan was a very intriguing task for me since it is really impressive, unique and attractive too. I was explained about the culture and traditions of Bhutan by a locale here who was the owner of a small tea shop that was located quite near to my hotel. Imagine how cool it was- sipping a hot cup of tea at a shop with a perfect view of snow-capped mountains while listening to some of his engrossing stories! Have a glance on what all he told me:
Since, I love stories and the way that man informed me about the marriages in Bhutan, it was amazing! To me, it looked as if it was a story. He told that earlier, arranged marriages as well as cross-cousin marriages were too common here but now, as the time changed the individuals are allowed to choose their life partners according to their will. As the marriage rituals come to an end, the couple is gifted with attractive scarves by their parents along with some other gifts and cash. Also, in Western Bhutan the husband lives at his wife’s place after marriage and this is vice versa in the Eastern Bhutan.
Well, this was an interesting topic and he was the happiest one while discussing it since his wife gave birth to a baby girl two months before. The birth of a child of any family in Bhutan is always welcomed happily and also, as the ritual is followed, the guests are not allowed to see and meet the newly born within 3 days of his/her birth. On the third day, some ceremonies regarding the purification of that child is done and once done, the guests are then allowed to meet the baby. Also, the name of the child is given by the head lama of any local temple of Bhutan.
Dress of Bhutanese
The unique garments of the Bhutanese have been in use and evolved since thousands of years. ‘Gho’ that is considered to be a robe having a knee length and looking like a kimono is worn by the men of Bhutan. Talking about women here, they wear Kira that is a dress with a long, ankle-length along with Teko that is an outer- jacket. I witnessed the same dressing of a group consisting of 4-5 women who passed from the shop. Don’t know whether they were going out for attending a ceremony, festival or any other occasion.
Well, the eating habits were not told by the shop owner, instead I witnessed it on my own when I was present in a restaurant for some dinner. There was a Bhutanese family, where the children were eating the food with their hands. To me, it didn’t look unhygienic at all since, the way they were eating was quite decent. Apart from this, I also got to know by my friend who belonged to Bhutan but lived in Delhi and was there with me that usually the women is the one who is responsible for serving the food and before the starting of meals, a short prayer is done by the family members.
Arts and Crafts
Since I am a passionate lover of art, I took out a day for witnessing the art and craft works in Bhutan. Thus, I planned my day accordingly and went out to the Vajrayana Art Gallery, Alaya Gallery, National Museum of Bhutan as well as the Simply Bhutan Museum. You know what I found the most similar thing in all these museums, it is that majority of the artworks here were based on the divinity of Bhutan and also on the lifestyle, culture and traditions of this place. But, the way the colours were used, shades were done, pencil work was done, I found them highly vibrant.
Exploring Bhutan has proved to be an experience of lifetime for me and my travel mates. We have fulfilled our desires while being here. When is your turn?