Monday, March 21, 2016

Bhutanese Culture and Tradition

Bhutanese ways of physical, verbal and mental conducts are defined by a code of etiquette called the Driglan Namzha. Drig denotes order, norm and conformity; Lam literally means the way of having order and conformity while namzha refers to a concept or system. It is a concept that refers to good manners, which are adopted by individuals and heavily influenced, by the concept of Buddhist good conduct.

As part of the effort to preserve traditions Driglam namzha is passed on to children in schools as well from parents to children in almost all families as a way of life.

Bhutan is a tobacco free country. A person may import tobacco for personal consumption (limited to 800 sticks of cigarettes or 150 pieces of cigar or 750 grams of other tobacco products) upon 100% tax payment of the value of the product. Smoking in public places or offical events is forbidden.

Arts and Crafts
An essential part of Bhutan's cultural heritage is the thirteen traditional arts and crafts that have been practiced from time immemorial. These arts includes;
1. Thag-zo: the art of Bhutanese textile weaving
2. Tsha-zo: the art of weaving cane and bamboo products
3. Shag-zo: the art of turning wood and making wooden products
4. Shing-zo: the art of wood work for timber and construction
5. Do-zo: the art of stone work
6. Par-zo: the art of carving on stone, wood and slate
7. Lha-zo: the art of painting
8. Jim-zo: the art of making clay products
9. Lug-zo: the art of bronze casting
10. Gar-zo: the art of blacksmiths
11. Troe-zo: the art of making ornaments or objects and products from rare materials
12. De-zo: the art of making the traditional paper
13. Tshem-zo: the art of tailoring

The national language is Dzongkha, which literally means the language spoken in the Dzongs, or fortresses that serve as the administrative centers and monasteries. Two other major languages are the Tshanglakha and the Lhotshamkha. Tshanglakha is the native language of the Tshanglas of eastern Bhutan while Lhotshamkha is spoken by the southern Bhutanese.

Bhutan is linguistically rich with over nineteen dialects spoken in the country. The richness of the linguistic diversity can be attributed to the geographical location of the country with its high mountain passes and deep valleys. These geographical features forced the inhabitants of the country to live in isolation but also contributed to their survival.

Dress and Clothing
One of the most distinctive features of the Bhutanese is their traditional dress and clothing made from unique garments that have evolved over thousands of years.

Men wear the Gho, a knee-length robe somewhat resembling a kimono that is tied at the waist by a traditional belt known as kera. Women wear the Kira, a long, ankle-length dress accompanied by a light outer jacket known as a Tego with an inner layer known as a Wonju.

Bhutanese wear long scarves when visiting Dzongs and other administrative centers. The scarves worn vary in color, signifying the wearer's status or rank. The scarf worn by men is known as Kabney while those worn by women are known as Rachu.

The Rachu is hung over a women's shoulder and unlike the scarves worn by men, does not have any specific rank associated with its color. Rachus are usually woven out of raw silk and embroidered with beautiful patterns.

Food is eaten in general with hands. Family members eat while sitting cross-legged with food first being served to the head of the household. Before eating, a short prayer is offered and a small morsel placed on the floor as an offering to the local spirits and deities. Traditi
onally dishes were cooked in earthen ware.

Rice is the staple meal with vegetables or meat dishes often cooked with chili and cheese often accompanies the meal as a side dish. Chili dominates all Bhutanese food. The famous traditional vegetarian dishes in Bhutan are Ema-Datsi (chili and cheese), Kewa-Datsi (potato, cheese and chili) and Shamu-Datsi (mushroom, cheese and chili). People of Bhutan relish Yak meat along with pork, beef, fish, poultry, goat and corn dishes. Bhutanese butter tea (Su-ja) is a popular beverage in Bhutan. However, different parts of the country have different types of cuisine.

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