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People & Religion:

People: Bhutan is a rich mosaic of cultures, lifestyles, languages and belief systems. In a country with a population of just over half a million, as many as 19 different dialects and a few languages are spoken. This is attributed to the fact that in the past, Bhutanese communities settled in the valleys with limited communications. It is for the same reason that the sense of individuality and independence emerges as a strong characteristic of the people.

The Bhutanese are, by nature, physically strong and fiercely independent with an open and ready sense of humour. Hospitality is an in-built social value in Bhutan. People wear colourful dresses, the mean wear a Gho, a long robe tied around the waist by a slim fabric belt, or Kera. Kira, the main garment of women is an ankle length wrap-around dress secured by a belt around the waist and fastened at the shoulders with silver brooches called Koma.

There is no rigid class system in Bhutan and social and educational opportunities are not affected by a rank or birth. Bhutanese women enjoy equal rights with men. Both men and women are free to choose their partners for marriage and both can initiate a divorce.

Monks are held in great respect and play an active part in community life. Representatives of the monk body are present at all important occasions. In the past, it was common for one son from each family to enter the monastic order, a custom that is less prevalent today.

Religion: The state religion of Bhutan is the Drukpa sect of Kagyupa, a branch of Mahayana Buddhism. Ever since its introduction in the eight century, Buddhism has shaped the nationís history and played a vital part in the life of its people.

Throughout Bhutan, from the most densely populated valleys to the most remote mountain way stops, religious monuments and symbols bear witness to a deep and respected faith. One comes across prayer wheels, prayer flags and the sacred mantras carved on the slabs of stone and rocky hillsides. Chortens (Stupas) housing the sacred relics dot the landscape. Monasteries and Temples some dating back to as early as the eight century are the focal point of each village.

e-mail: norda@druknet.bt or karmawangmo@gmail.com
PO. Box 1419, Thimphu, Bhutan
Tel: 975-2-326818, 325743, 329116 and Fax : 975-2-326818