Culture in Bhutan
Bhutan the Land of Thunder Dragon, also known as the last Mahayana Kingdom with deep reverence for spirituality has always been blessed by the visit of great Buddhist saints who have contributed to the development and growth of spiritual feeling and cultural heritage. Bhutanese culture is strongly influenced by Buddhism and there isn’t any form of culture whether tangible or intangible that does not exhibit spirituality. This spiritual aura in all forms of culture has resulted in a closely knit society sharing a very strong sense of community bonding and showcases the identity of Bhutan and her people. The richness of Bhutanese culture can be felt in every aspect of Bhutanese life. It is not just a part of the physical existence but is an integral part of the soul too. The richness of Bhutanese culture can be noticed in various aspects with its core value rooted in the idea of tha-damtsi and ley judrey. As the world increasingly becomes interconnected and globalization increases its pace, Bhutan stands firm in preserving its culture. Culture is not just a way of life in Bhutan; it is the aura and charisma of being Bhutanese, it is the strength that holds the ideals of the past with the united view of today. Bhutanese culture is exhibited in different ways at different levels but the romance of Bhutanese culture is its true expression even in the face of modernity and development.
The strong reverence to spirituality brings forth the value of environment and all living beings which help in promoting and preserving the Bhutanese culture. As individualism is detested over community, every Bhutanese seeks for a sustainable growth wherein the happiness of the nation counts more than the statistical data of economic development. The identity of Bhutan has been profoundly safeguarded under the dynamic leadership of the Wangchuck dynasty for ages and as the Monarchs guides the country and the people towards a higher realm of a modern era, governance in Bhutan can never falter. The philosophy of Gross National Happiness leads Bhutan on a smooth path of development that epitomizes both physical as well as spiritual well being.
Marriage in Bhutan can be simple one or an elaborated ceremony but Bhutanese have high respect for the institution of marriage and take into consideration the consents of both male and female.
Birth is considered to be a boon and being born in the realm of human being out of the six other realms Buddhist believe in, is a blessing. There is no special preference for a son or a daughter; gender has no role to play, every child is viewed as a blessing and received with happiness and admiration. The birth of a child is in Bhutan is celebrated as an auspicious day. The newborn goes through a cleansing ritual to be blessed, cleanses and protected from evil spirits. The name of the newborn is sought from a revered lama (priest) and a keytse (birth astrology) is written for the newborn consulting an astrologer. In Bhutanese culture, friend or foe, celebration of a newborn is carried out very profoundly by visiting the house of the new born for a feast.
Just as birth is seen as a blessing, death is also seen as an inevitable way of life. Adherence to this view is because of the Bhutanese belief in the idea of impermanence and also because of the strong belief in life after death. Death is seen as another stage of life and is the family and friends of the deceased performs rituals on the 7th day, 14th day, 21st day and 49th day for the safe passage of the deceased to the judgment day and for a swift rebirth. The deceased is fondly remembered every year on the day of their death; butters lamps are lit and rituals are performed and this continues at least for three years.
Bhutanese hospitality is well known, a guest is always treated with respect and high regard. It is considered inauspicious to let a guest leave without at least a cup of tea. The idea of love increases through sharing has been immortalized among the Bhutanese. Volunteerism has been deeply engraved in the Bhutanese mind and perhaps this has strengthened community bonding.