There are three main ethnic groups in Bhutan. The Sharchops from the east are considered to be the earliest inhabitants of Bhutan. They are believed to be the descendants of Indo-Mongoloids migrated into Bhutan as early as two thousand years ago from Arunchal Pradesh, Nagaland, Burma, and Thailand. Secondly, the Ngalops found mostly in western Bhutan are believed to be migrated from the Tibet and are responsible for introducing Buddhism in Bhutan. The other main ethnic group is the Lhotshampas predominantly settled in south. They are believed to be originally from Nepal migrated into Bhutan in late nineteenth century.
Bhutan is also inhabited by many other smaller groups in different regions like Lhokpu, Monpa, Gongduk, lhayaps, Brokpa, Doya and Lepcha.
Generally, Bhutanese are a fun-loving people fond of dance and songs. Often you will witness us outdoor in friendly contests of traditional games like archery, stone pitching and traditional darts. Also we enjoy basketball and football. Bhutanese are very social and hospitable people. We are welcoming to visitors. We enjoy weddings, religious holidays and other events as the perfect opportunities to gather with friends and family.
While Bhutan is one of the smallest countries in the world, there are over nineteen dialects spoken all over the country. All dialects are Tibeto-Burman origin except for Nepali, which is an Indo-Aryan language. Country’s long isolation from the rest of the world owing to its geographical features making access difficult due to High Mountain passes and deep valleys have perhaps contributed to this richness in linguistic diversity.
Dzongkha is the national language of Bhutan. It is the native language of the Ngalops of west. Other widely spoken languages are Tshanglakha the mother tongue of Sarchops from east and the Lhotshamkha spoken by Lhotsham of south.
Rest of the dialects are pocketed in regions spread over the country. Khengkha and Bumthapkha is spoken by the Khengpas and Bumthap of Central Bhutan, Mangdepkah, is spoken by the inhabitants of Trongsa and the Cho Cha Nga Chang Kha is spoken by the Kurtoeps. The Sherpas, Lepchas and the Tamangs in southern Bhutan also have their own dialects.
Bhutan enjoys its sovereignty by promoting and preserving its diverse and unique culture. One part of culture that is laid great importance is a highly refined system of etiquette called Driglam Namzha (rules for disciplined behaviour). This traditional code of conduct teaches profound human values in behaving with the members of respectful society and authority, respect for national dress and language, devotion to the institution of marriage and family, dedication to civic duty and all other basic human values culturally rooted in Bhutanese society.
Wearing national dress (Gho for men and Kira for women) with traditional scarf (Kabney for men and Rachu for women) when visiting a Dzong or an office is mandatory for Bhutanese. 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 by bowing head and by saying Kuzuzangpo la (Hello) are some examples of our etiquettes.
Bhutan is the only country in the world that follows Vajrayana form of Mahayana Buddhism as its national religion. Buddhism was introduced in Bhutan in the 8th century by Guru Padmasambhava, as known as Guru Rinpoche. During your trip, you will notice that every part of Bhutanese land is dotted by Buddhist stupas and it is believed that they protect us from evils. However, prior to Buddhism, Bhutan followed Bonism, the animistic religion that worshipped all forms of nature.
Hinduism is practiced by Lhotshams in the southern part of Bhutan.
A number of annual festivals called Tsheshus are celebrated to highlight different events in the life of Buddha with colourful symbolic mask dances. We have attractive itineraries for festivals prepared for you to aid in planning your visit. During these religious festivals, tourists are allowed to enter the Dzong and enjoy the programme.
Both Buddhists and Hindus believe in reincarnation and the law of karma.
Bhutanese cuisines are mostly spicy. Chillis are indispensable in almost every Bhutanese dish. Bhutanese meals have rice in all three times a day often accompanied by pork, beef or chicken with some vegetables. Spinach, pumpkins, turnips, radishes, tomatoes, river weed, onions and green beans are some of the common vegetables. Grains such as rice, buckwheat and barley are also cultivated in various regions of the country.
Some of the most popular Bhutanese dishes are listed below: