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Traditional Bhutanese eating habits are simple and, in general, food is eaten with
hands. Family members eat while sitting cross legged on the wooden floor with food
first being served to the head of the household first.
It is usually women who serve the food and in most cases, the mother. Before eating, a short prayer is
offered and a small morsel placed on the floor as an offering to the local spirits and deities. With
modernization, eating habits have changed and in urban areas, people usually eat with cutlery whilst
seated at a regular dining table.

Traditionally dishes were cooked in earthenware, but with the easy availability of modern goods, pots
and pans have largely replaced their use. A typical Bhutanese meal consists of rice, a dish of Ema
Datshi, the countrys favourite dish of chili and cheese, pork, beef curry or lentils.

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Death signifies re-birth or a mere passing on to a new life. In keeping with the
traditions, elaborate rituals are performed to ensure a safe passage and a good
The 7th, 14th, 21st and 49th days after a persons death are considered especially important and are
recognized by erecting prayer flags in the name of the deceased and performing specific religious
rituals. While the deceased are normally cremated, funerary practices vary among the southern
Bhutanese and the nomadic Brokpas of northern Bhutan. Southern

Bhutanese typically bury their dead while the Brokpas carry out Sky Burials, a process in which the
deceased are prepared and left atop mountains to be devoured by vultures in a final act of compassion
and generosity. Elaborate and ancient rituals are also conducted on the anniversary of the death with
the erection of prayer flags. The relatives and people of the locality come with alcohol, rice or other
sundry items to attend such rituals.

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The birth of a child is always welcomed. In Bhutan extended family and guests are
discouraged from visiting during the first three days after the birth.
On the third day, a short purification ritual is performed after which visitors are welcomed to visit the new born and
mother. Bhutanese value children as progenitors of the future and therefore do not discriminate on the sex of the
child. Traditionally various gifts are offered ranging from dairy products to cloth and money.
The child is not immediately named; this responsibility is usually entrusted to the head lama (Buddhist priest) of the
local temple. The mother and child will also receive blessings from the local deity (natal deity) and it was traditional
that the name associated with the deity is given. In some cases, the child is given the name of the day on which the
child is born. Based on the Bhutanese calendar, a horoscope is written based on the time and date of the birth, this
will detail the various rituals to be performed at different times in the life of the child and to an extent predict his or her
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One of the most distinctive features of the Bhutanese is their traditional dress.
One of the most distinctive features of the Bhutanese is their traditional dress, unique garments that have evolved
over thousands of years. Men wear the Gho, a knee-length robe somewhat resembling a kimono that is tied at the
waist by a traditional belt known as Kera. The pouch t which forms at the front traditionally was used for carrying food
bowls and a small dagger. Today however it is more accustomed to carrying small articles such as wallets, mobile
phones and Doma (beetle nut).
Women wear the Kira, a long, ankle-length dress accompanied by a light outer jacket known as a Tego with an inner
layer known as a Wonju.
However, tribal and semi-nomadic people like the Bramis and Brokpas of eastern Bhutan generally wear clothing that
differs from the rest of the Bhutanese population. The Brokpas and the Bramis both wear dresses woven either out of
Yak or Sheep hair.
Bhutanese still wear long scarves when visiting Dzongs and other administrative centers. The scarves worn vary in
color, signifying the wearers status or rank. The scarf worn by men is known as Kabney while those worn by women
are known as Rachus. Below is a brief breakdown of the different kabneys and their associated rank.
The Rachu is hung over a womans shoulder and unlike the scarves worn by men, does not have any specific rank
associated with its color. Rachus are usually woven out of raw silk and embroidered with beautiful rich patterns.
Rank Kabney/Scarf
The King Yellow
Je Khenpo (Head Abbot) Yellow
Minister Orange
Judge Green
District Administrator Red with a small white stripe
Commoner White
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Bhutan is rich in cultural diversity and this richness is further enhanced by the wide
variety of elaborate and colorful religious festivals that are celebrated throughout
the country. Every village is known for their unique festival though the most widely
known is the annual Tshechu, meaning a religious festival.
As the Tshechu begins, the villagers and the general populace dress in their finest clothes and
congregate at their local temples and monasteries were these festivals take place. Tshechus are
usually occasions to mark important events in the life of the second Buddha, the Indian/Pakistani
Tantric master known as Guru Rinpoche or the Precious Gem. Various mask dances are performed
together with songs and dances for three days.

These religious celebrations are lively, high-spirited affairs during which people share meals of red rice,
spicy pork, Ema Datshi and Momos (pork dumplings) whilst drinking the heady traditional rice wine
known as Ara. These occasions provide the villagers with a respite from the hard labor of their day to
day lives and gives the community an opportunity to catch up with family and friends.

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The climate in Bhutan is extremely varied. This variation in the climatic conditions
and average temperature can be attributed to two main factors, the vast differences
in altitude present in the country and the influence of the north Indian monsoons.
Southern Bhutan has a hot, humid sub-tropical climate that is fairly unchanging throughout the year.
Temperatures can vary between 15-30 degrees Celsius. In the Central parts of the country the climate
cools a bit, changing to temperate and deciduous forests with warm summers and cool, dry winters. In
the far Northern reaches of the kingdom the weather is cold during winter. Mountain peaks are
perpetually covered in snow and lower parts are still cool in summer owing to the high altitude terrain.

The Indian summer monsoon lasts from late-June through late-September and is mostly confined to the
southern border region of Bhutan. It brings heavy rain and high humidity, to the southern region.
These rains bring between 60 and 90 percent of the western region's rainfall.

Annual precipitation ranges widely in various parts of the country. In the northern border region to
Tibet gets about forty millimeters of precipitation a year which is primarily snow. In the temperate
central regions, a yearly average of around 1,000 millimeters is more common, and 7,800 millimeters
per year has been registered at some locations in the humid, subtropical south, ensuring the thick
tropical forest, or savanna.

Thimphu experiences dry winter months (December through February) and almost no precipitation
until March, when rainfall averages 20 millimeters a month and increases steadily thereafter to a high
of 220 millimeters in August for a total annual rainfall of nearly 650 millimeters.

Bhutan's generally dry spring starts in early March and lasts until mid-April. Summer weather
commences in mid-April with occasional showers and continues to late June. The heavier summer rains
last from late June through late September which are more monsoonal along the southwest border.
Autumn, from late September or early October to late November, follows the rainy season. It is
characterized by bright, sunny days and some early snowfalls at higher elevations.

From late November until March, winter sets in, with frost throughout much of the country and snowfall
common above elevations of 3,000 meters. The winter northeast monsoon brings gale-force winds at
the highest altitudes through high mountain passes, giving Bhutan its name - Drukyul, which in the
Dzongkha language mean Land of the Thunder Dragon.

Average Temperatures in Bhutan

It should be noted that average temperatures are recorded from valley floors. There can be
considerable divergences from the recorded figures depending upon elevation.

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Despite Bhutan small population there has been much economic development in
recent years and the economy is growing rapidly.
While a large part of the Bhutanese population is still illiterate and reside in rural areas with
approximately 1in 5 still living under the poverty line, the majority of all Bhutanese have shelter and
are self-sufficient. Rapid modernization has brought about vast improvements in the living standard of
the Bhutanese people. All villages now have access to basic amenities such as education, running
water, basic healthcare and are connected by roads and electricity. Even the most remote villages
have connection to the telecommunication network including mobile phone service.

The Bhutanese economy is predominantly agricultural. Farmers supplement their income through the
sale of animal products such as cheese, butter and milk. Farmers markets are common throughout the
country, supplying the people with fresh, organic, local produce.

The main staple crops are rice, maize, wheat and buckwheat while cash crops are predominantly
potatoes, apples, oranges, cardamom, ginger, and chilies. A fruit based industry has been established
in the capital allowing farmers from the nearby areas to sell their produce and thereby earn additional

Cottage Industries
Bhutans rich biodiversity provides the country with ample forest resources and this has brought about
the development of a thriving cane and bamboo handicraft industry. Craftsmen weave a number of
beautiful and intricate items out of bamboo and cane including hats, backpacks, floor mats and
traditional bowls. These items are then sold to tourists or Bhutanese, supplying a secondary income
The Bhutanese Tourism Industry was first opened in 1974. Since then it has grown to become, a major
contributing factor to the Bhutanese economy creating countless employment opportunities and
generating additional revenue for the government.

The government is committed to building a sustainable tourism industry that is not only financially
viable but also limits the negative cultural and environmental impacts commonly associated with the
culture of mass tourism. By establishing a policy of High Value, Low Impact tourism, the kingdom of
Bhutan seeks to ensure that it attracts only the most discerning visitors with a deep respect for cultural
values, traditions and the natural environment.

To this end efforts have been made to ensure that even remote areas are publicized and able to reap
the benefits of tourism while still respecting their traditions, culture and natural environment.

Due to its fast flowing, glacier-fed rivers, Bhutan has enormous potential to produce hydroelectricity.
With the construction of several major dams, the power sector has undeniably been the biggest
contributor to the Bhutanese exchequer. The Chukha Hydro Power Corporation, the Tala Hydro Power
Corporation, the Baso Chu Hydro Power Corporation and the Kurichu Hydro Power Corporation, under
the umbrella of Druk Green Power Corporation, are some of the existing mega projects in the country.
The 1500 MW of power they generate, most of which is exported to our neighboring country India,
barely scratches the surface of Bhutans untapped hydroelectric potential. With its abundant water
resources, Bhutan still has the capacity to generate 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.

The Manufacturing sector is another major contributor to national revenue. 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 have started developing.

As a result of the recent economic development, Bhutan has one of the highest per capita incomes in
South Asia at US$1,321. However despite this high level of growth and development, efforts stringent
regaliations have been enacted in order to protect Bhutans natural environment.

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Due to Bhutans location and unique geographical and climatic variations, it is one
of the worlds last remaining biodiversity hotspots.
Bhutan pristine environment, with high rugged mountains and deep valleys, offers ecosystems that are
both rich and diverse. Recognizing the importance of the environment, conservation of its rich
biodiversity is one of the governments development paradigms.

The government has enacted a law that shall maintain at least 60% of its forest cover for all
time. Today, approximately 72% of the total land area of Bhutan is under forest cover and
approximately 60% of the land area falls under protected areas comprising of 10 national parks and

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The most distinctive characteristic of Bhutanese cuisine is its spiciness. Chillis are
an essential part of nearly every dish and are considered so important that most
Bhutanese people would not enjoy a meal that was not spicy.

Rice forms the main body of most Bhutanese meals. It is accompanied by one or two side dishes
consisting of meat or vegetables. Pork, beef and chicken are the meats that are eaten most often.
Vegetables commonly eaten include Spinach, pumpkins, turnips, radishes, tomatoes, river weed,
onions and green beans. Grains such as rice, buckwheat and barley are also cultivated in various
regions of the country depending on the local climate.

The following is a list of some of the most popular Bhutanese dishes:

Ema Datshi: This is the National Dish of Bhutan. A spicy mix of chillis and the delicious local
cheese known as Datshi. This dish is a staple of nearly every meal and can be found throughout the
country. Variations on Ema Datshi include adding green beans, ferns, potatoes, mushrooms or
swapping the regular cheese for yak cheese.
Momos: These Tibetan-style dumplings are stuffed with pork, beef or cabbages and cheese.
Traditionally eaten during special occasions, these tasty treats are a Bhutanese favourite.
Phaksha Paa: Pork cooked with spicy red chillis. This dish can also include Radishes or
Spinach. A popular variation uses sun-dried (known as Sicaam). Hoentoe: Aromatic buckwheat
dumplings stuffed with turnip greens, datshi (cheese), spinach and other ingredients.
Jasha Maru: Spicy minced chicken, tomatoes and other ingredients that is usually served with
Red Rice: This rice is similar to brown rice and is extremely nutritious and filling. When cooked
it is pale pink, soft and slightly sticky.
Goep (Tripe): Though the popularity of tripe has diminished in many countries it is still
enjoyed in Bhutan. Like most other meat dishes, it is cooked with plenty of spicy chillis and chilli
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Gross National Happiness: Development Philosophy of Bhutan

Economists the world over have argued that the key to happiness is obtaining and enjoying material
development. Bhutan however, adheres to a very different belief and advocates that amassing
material wealth does not necessarily lead to happiness. Bhutan is now trying to measure progress not
by the popular idea of Gross Domestic Product but by through Gross National Happiness.

His Majesty the third Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuck expressed his view on the goals of
development as making the people prosperous and happy. With this strong view in mind, the
importance of prosperity and happiness, was highlighted in the Kings address on the occasion of
Bhutans admission to the United Nations in 1971.

While the emphasis is placed on both, prosperity and happiness, the latter is considered to be more
significant. The fourth Druk Gyalpo emphasized that for Bhutan Gross National Happiness, is more
important than Gross National Product. Thus, Gross National Happiness is now being fleshed out by a
wide range of professionals, scholars and agencies across the world.

Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck said that the rich are not always happy while the happy
generally considered themselves rich. While conventional development models stressed on economic
growth as the ultimate objective, the concept of Gross National Happiness is based on the premise that
true development of human society takes place when material and spiritual development occur side by
side to complement and reinforce each other.

The philosophy of Gross National Happiness has recently received international recognition and the UN
has implemented a resolution 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.

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The four main pillars of Gross National Happiness are:

1. Equitable and equal socio-economic development

2. Preservation and promotion of cultural and spiritual heritage
3. Conservation of environment and
4. Good governance which are interwoven, complementary, and consistent.

These pillars embody national and local values, aesthetics, and spiritual traditions. The concept of
Gross National Happiness is now being taken up the United Nations and by various other countries.

Crucial to a better understanding of Gross National Happiness, is its wider reach and awareness
amongst other countries, and the various indices that have now been formulated to include material
gains in their assessment of the country and lastly, the growing need to synthesize the moral with the
cultural values as the core of economic policy.

Gross National Happiness as a development paradigm has now made it possible for Bhutan to take its
developmental policies into the remote corners of the kingdom and to meet the development needs of
even its most isolated villagers, while still accentuating the need to protect and preserve our rich
environment and forest cover. The policy of high value, low impact tourism has facilitated the
promotion and preservation of our cultural values.

Furthermore, the concept of Gross National Happiness has greatly enabled the pursuit of development,
while at the same time promoting the attainment of happiness as the core philosophy of life. For the
government, it has facilitated the drive towards self sufficiency and self reliance, the ultimate
reduction in the gap between the rich and the poor and ensuring good governance and empowerment
of her people as one of its key directives.

Following the international seminar on Operationalizing Gross National Happiness held in Bhutan in
February 2004, the participants began working to establish a Gross International Happiness Network,
indicating the influence of Gross National Happiness beyond the Bhutanese Borders.

The Network attempts to find the best examples of sustainable development that incorporate values
reflecting the general well-being of the people. The GNH Network is a collaboration of the following

Center for Bhutan Studies, Bhutan

Spirit in Business, USA and the Netherlands
Social Venture Network Asia, Thailand
ICONS, Redefining Progress & Implementing New Indicators on Sustainable Development, Brazil
Inner Asia Center for Sustainable Development, the Netherlands
The New Economics Foundation, UK
Genuine Progress Indicators / GPI Atlantic, Canada
Corptools/Values Center, USA
International Society for Ecology and Culture, UK

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It is believed that Bhutan was inhabited as early as 2000 B.C. due to the presence
of early stone implements discovered in the region.

The country was originally known by many names including Lho Jong, The Valleys of the South, Lho
Mon Kha Shi, The Southern Mon Country of Four Approaches, Lho Jong Men Jong, The Southern
Valleys of Medicinal Herbs and Lho Mon Tsenden Jong, The Southern Mon Valleys where Sandlewood
Grows. Mon was a term used by the Tibetans to refer to Mongoloid, non-Buddhist peoples that
populated the Southern Himalayas.

The country came to be known as Druk Yul or The Land of the Drukpas sometime in the 17 th century.
The name refers to the Drukpa sect of Buddhism that has been the dominant religion in the region
since that period.

Initially Bonism was the dominant religion in the region that would come to be known as Bhutan.
Buddhism was introduced in the 7 th century by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo and further
strengthened by the arrival of Guru Rimpoche, a Buddhist Master that is widely considered to be the
Second Buddha.

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Bhutanese people can be generally categorized into three main ethnic groups. The
Tshanglas, Ngalops and the Lhotshampas.

The other minority groups are the Bumthaps and the Khengpas of Central Bhutan, the Kurtoeps in
Lhuentse, the Brokpas and the Bramis of Merak and Sakteng in eastern Bhutan, the Doyas of Samtse
and finally the Monpas of Rukha villages in WangduePhodrang. Together the multiethnic Bhutanese
population number just over 700,000.

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Bhutanese society is free of class or a caste system. Slavery was abolished by the
Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in the early 1950s through a royal edict. Though,
a few organizations to empower women were established in the past Bhutanese
society has always maintained relative gender equality. In general our nation is an
open and a good-spirited society.

Living in Bhutanese society generally means understanding some accepted norms such as Driglam
Namzha, the traditional code of etiquette. Driglam Namzha teaches people a code of conduct to
adhere to as members of a respectful society. Examples of Driglam Namzha include wearing a
traditional scarf (kabney) when visiting a Dzong or an office, letting the elders and the monks serve
themselves first during meals, offering felicitation scarves during ceremonies such as marriages and
promotions and politely greeting elders or seniors.

Normally, greetings are limited to saying Kuzuzangpo (hello) amongst equals. For seniors and elders,
the Bhutanese bow their head a bit and say kuzuzangpo la (a more respectful greeting). Recently,
shaking hands has become an accepted norm.

The Bhutanese are a fun-loving people fond of song and dance, friendly contests of archery, stone
pitching, traditional darts, basketball and football. We are a social people that enjoy weddings,
religious holidays and other events as the perfect opportunities to gather with friends and family.

The openness of Bhutanese society is exemplified in the way our people often visit their friends and
relatives at any hour of the day without any advance notice or appointment and still receive a warm
welcome and hospitality.

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Bhutan is a Buddhist country and people often refer to it as the last stronghold of
Vajrayana Buddhism. Buddhism was first introduced by the Indian Tantric master
Guru Padmasambhava in the 8th century. Until then the people practiced Bonism a
religion that worshipped all forms of nature, remnants of which are still evident

Until then the people practiced Bonism a religion that worshipped all forms of nature, remnants of
which are still evident even today in some remote villages in the country.

The Buddhism practiced in the country today is a vibrant religion that permeates nearly every facet of the Bhutanese
life style. It is present in the Dzongs, monasteries, stupas, prayer flags, and prayer wheels punctuate the Bhutanese
landscape. The chime of ritual bells, sound of gongs, people circumambulating temples and stupas, fluttering prayer
flags, red robed monks conducting rituals stand as testaments to the importance of Buddhism in Bhutanese life - See
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Though Bhutan is often referred to as the last Vajrayana Buddhist country, you can
still come across animistic traditions and beliefs being practiced by the people.

The form of Buddhism practiced in Bhutan has absorbed many of the features of Bonism such as
nature worship and animal sacrifice. Also worship of a host of deities, invoking and propitiating them.
According to Bonism these deities were the rightful owners of different elements of nature. Each
different facet of nature was associated with its own specific type of spirit.

For example, mountain peaks were considered as the abodes of guardian deities (Yullha), lakes were
inhabited by lake deities (Tshomem), cliff deities (Tsen) resided within cliff faces, the land belonged to
subterranean deities (Lue and Sabdag), water sources were inhabited by water deities (Chu giLhamu),
and dark places were haunted by the demons (due).

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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.

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Landlocked country in South Asia at the eastern end of the Himalayas.

It is bordered to the North by China and to the South, East and West by India.


Religion-Mahayana Buddhism

Area-38,394 sq kms

Population- 8,00,000 approx.