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Bhutanese Culture


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Bhutan remains one of the most secluded nations in the world, and most tourists are required to book packaged tours (offered by the country numerous tourist agencies) in order to travel around the country. In contrast to Nepal, which is well-known as a budget travel destination, Bhutan attempts to limit tourism to group tourists willing to pay upwand of US$ 100 per day

The traditional dress for Ngalong and Sharchop men is the gho, a knee-length robe tied at the waist by a cloth belt known as the kera. Women wear an ankle-length dress, the kira, which is clipped at one shoulder and tied at the waist. An accompaniment to the kira is a long-sleeved blouse, which is worn underneath the outer layer. Social status and class determine the texture, colours, and decorations that embellish the garments. Scarves and shawls are also indicators of social standings, as Bhutan has traditionally been a feudal society. Earrings are worn by females. Controversially, Bhutanese law now requires these Tibetan-style garments for all Bhutanese citizens—including the Nepalese, who are not of Tibetan stock.

Rice, and increasingly corn, are the staple foods of the country. The diet in the hills is rich in protein because of the consumption of meat — chiefly poultry, yak and beef. Soups of meat, rice, and dried vegetables spiced with chilis and cheese are a favourite meal during the cold seasons. Dairy foods, particularly butter and cheese from yaks and cows, are also popular, despite the scarcity of milk (because all milk is turned to butter and cheese). Popular beverages include butter tea, tea, locally brewed rice wine and beer. Bhutan is the only country in the world to have banned tobacco smoking and the sale of tobacco.

Archery is the national sport of Bhutan and competitions are held regularly

Bhutan’s national sport is archery, and competitions are held regularly in most villages. It differs from Olympic standards not only in technical details such as the placement of the targets and atmosphere. There are two targets placed over 100 metres apart and teams shoot from one end of the field to the other. Each member of the team shoots two arrows per round. Traditional Bhutanese archery is a social event and competitions are organised between villages, towns, and amateur teams. There are usually plenty of food and drink complete with singing and dancing cheerleaders comprising of the wives and supporters of the participating teams. Attempts to distract an opponent include standing around the target and making fun of shooter’s ability.

Another traditional sport is the digor, which can be best described as shot put combined with horseshoe throwing. Soccer is an increasingly popular sport. Rigsagar is the new emergent style of popular music, played on a a mix of traditional instruments and electronic keyboards, and dates back to the early 1990s; it shows the influence of Indian popular music, a hybrid form of traditional and Western popular influences. Traditional genres include the zhungdra and boedra

Cheracteristics of the religion is kind of fortress know as dzong archtecture.

Chaam or the masked dance is a mystic dance performed during Buddhist festivals

Bhutan has numerous public holidays, most of which centers around traditional seasonal, secular and religious festivals. They include the winter solstice (around January 1, depending on the lunar calendar), the lunar New Year (February or March), the King’s birthday and the anniversary of his coronation, the official start of monsoon season (September 22), National Day (December 17), and various Buddhist and Hindu celebrations. Even the secular holidays have religious overtones, including religious dances and prayers for blessing the day.

Masked dances and dance dramas are common traditional features at festivals, usually accompanied by traditional music. Energetic dancers, wearing colorful wooden or composition facemasks and stylish costumes, depict heroes, demons, death heads, animals, gods, and caricatures of common people. The dancers enjoy royal patronage, and preserve ancient folk and religious customs and perpetuate the ancient art of mask making.

The Kuensel, Bhutan’s only legal newspaper (several samizdat periodicals may be found on the internet), circulates biweekly in Dzongkha, English and Nepali. There are also several online newspapers such as the independent Bhutan Times which provides current news headlines on Bhutan as well as hosts a popular discussion forum. Bhutan has about 15,000 Internet users, 25,200 landline subscribers, and 23,000 mobile phone subscribers. The Bhutan Broadcasting Service was established in 1973 as a radio service, broadcasting in short wave nationally, and on the FM band in Thimphu. The service started television broadcasts in 1999, making Bhutan the last country in the world to introduce television. As part of the King’s modernization program, cable television was introduced shortly after. By 2002, however, the crime rate had increased appreciably, and the introduction of cable television is alleged to be responsible for the spurt in crime.

Bhutanese lama Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche is a well-known filmmaker, who produced and directed The Cup as well as Travellers and Magicians. While The Cup was shot in a Tibetan monastery in northern India, Travellers and Magicians was the first feature film to be filmed entirely in Bhutan, with a cast comprised entirely of Bhutanese people. No professional actors were used in either of the two films.