Culture in Bhutan, while being deeply entwined with religion, manifests itself in a vast interweave of traditional arts, architecture, festivals and religious ceremonies.
Bhutan’s culture remains vibrant amidst modernization attracting tourists from all over the world. The Thimphu tshechu (festival of mask dances) alone has been attracting thousands of visitors.
Tshechus are the most important festival where both culture and religion come alive. It is observed in all the districts and villages across Bhutan. Festivals and religious ceremonies can be an important place to understand Bhutan’s culture as it sees people from all walks of life dressed in traditional attire.
During tshechus, monks and laymen perform mask dances and women sing wearing traditional hand woven brocades.
Bhutanese arts, paintings and architecture take inspiration from nature and the Himalayan landscape. Mountains and valleys are witnessed in almost all forms of Bhutanese paintings. Traditional songs trace the meandering rivers and the ups and lows of mountains and valleys.
Traditional culture and etiquette remain important in the Bhutanese lifestyle. Every office goer wears the traditional dress, while Driglam Namzha, the code for good discipline and etiquette guides every individual.
The traditional dress for Bhutanese men is the gho, which is a wraparound skirt tied at the waist with a belt while women wear kira which are ankle length skirts.
Culture in Bhutan can also be witnessed in the several dzongs or fortresses, monasteries and stupas that dot the country. Bhutanese hoist prayer flags on hilltops and bridges. It is believed the wind will carry the mantras imprinted on the prayer flags across the universe and benefit all sentient beings.
Culture is also central to the government’s policy and many efforts are made to preserve and promote Bhutan’s unique culture. It constitutes an important pillar of Gross National Happiness, Bhutan’s most important development philosophy.